College hockey’s most-played rivalry continues this weekend as Michigan State and Michigan clash for the 308th and 309th time. The stakes are even higher this year with the introduction of the “Iron D” that will be awarded to the victor of the “Dual in the D” at Joe Louis Arena.
Joe Louis Arena / Detroit, Michigan (Fri); Munn Ice Arena / East Lansing, Michigan (Sat)
Dates & Times:
Friday Feb. 5 (7:30 p.m. EST) TV: Fox Sports Detroit Radio: Spartan Sports Network
Saturday Feb.6 (5:00 p.m. EST) TV: BTN Radio: Spartan Sports Network
Michigan State (2-8-0 B1G, 6-18-2 OVR): The Spartans are coming off a successful split in Columbus last weekend. While they only managed a single win, MSU looked pretty good in both games. Senior netminder Jake Hildebrand looked like his old self and did not allow any soft goals, junior forward Mackenzie MacEachern picked up three points (2g, 1a) and the team defense was generally sound. This makes the possibility of success against Michigan a real possibility, which is all the Spartans can ask for at this point.
This is a series though were the records do not mean much, anyone can win at any given time. Everyone remembers the Munn Massacre, and Michigan’s follow up victory at Yost the following day. It will be up the the Spartan seniors to rally and lead the green and white to redemption victory this weekend.
5 Michigan (7-1-2 B1G, 16-3-4 OVR): Michigan is the hottest team in all of collegiate hockey. It’s as simple as that. No one in their wildest dreams could have predicted that the Wolverines would boast an offense that averages five goals a game! Led by the “CCM Line” of Kyle Connor, JT Compher and Tyler Motte Michigan has swarmed past almost any opponent the Big Ten has to offer.
Because Michigan sits at fourth in the Pairwise rankings, they do have a little margin for error, but a team like Michigan State (55th in the Pairwise) presents a dangerous minefield for the maize and blue. Even a single loss to an opponent like the Spartans could seriously damage Michigan’s ranking, forcing them into a footrace in order to stay ahead Minnesota and Penn State. Because the Spartans have nothing to lose and everything to gain, the Wolverines know they will be dealing with a dangerous beast. They will likely rely on the offense to get them counter any Spartan surge they face.
Goals Per Game: MSU- 2.42
Power Play: MSU- 14/101 (.139)
UM- 25/91 (.275)
MSU- Mackenzie MacEachern (Jr. 10-10-20)
MSU- Michael Ferrantino: (Sr. 6-13-19)
MSU- Mason Appleton (Fr. 4-15-19)
UM- Kyle Connor (Fr. 20-22-42)
UM- JT Compher (Jr. 9-27-36)
UM- Tyler Motte (Jr. 22-13-35)
Goals Allowed Per Game: MSU- 3.5
Penalty Kill: MSU- 81/95 (.853)
UM- 65/82 (.793)
Goaltending: MSU- Jake Hildebrand (Sr. 24gp .896 Sv%, 3.28 GAA)
UM- Steve Racine (Sr. 14gp .908 Sv%, 3.03 GAA)
The key to beating Michigan is to shut down their offense. The only problem is hardly anyone has been able to do it. Even Tom Anastos admitted that the only thing teams can do is to slow them down. That’s precisely what Michigan State must do if they hope to have any success this weekend. Michigan will continue to roll at Joe Louis arena and likely take the Iron D back to Ann Arbor. But Saturday will be a bit different.
The Spartan seniors will come to Munn on Saturday and realize that this may be their last game against their hated rivals. Filled with a desire to avenge their losses they will lash out at Michigan with the ferocity of a cornered animal. The CCM Line will get their goals, but they will have to fight for every one as they stare down a hot Jake Hildebrand. In this battle of goaltenders it will be Racine who will blink first as the Spartans tally a deciding third period goal and earn victory at 1 Chestnut Road.
Despite statistics, I predict a series split.