Weekend Hockey Preview: Denver Pioneers

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Michigan State is hoping a little home cooking can help them improve over last weekend’s performance. With the No. 6 coming to East Lansing this weekend, it’s all hands on deck for this tough home opening series.

Location: Munn Ice Arena. East Lansing, Mich.

Dates and Times: Friday Oct. 21 (7:05 p.m.) Saturday Oct. 22 (5:05 p.m.)

TV: None

Radio: Spartan Sports Network


Team Comparisons:

For Michigan State, the season couldn’t have started any worse. Being swept on the road by Lake Superior State was bad enough, but getting demolished by a combined score of 13-4? Clearly the Spartans were not happy with the result, and have to work on a number of things in practice, especially special teams. Coach Tom Anastos said in his weekly press conference that he felt his team over-thought the game at times, and played afraid to make mistakes. All of this he attributes to the team’s inexperience as the Spartans are the sixth youngest team in the country.

The starter between the pipes has yet to be decided as both junior Ed Minney and freshman John Lethemon failed to impress during their stints in net last weekend. Based on seniority, it would be likely to see Minney start on Friday, but fans should not be surprised if they see Lethemon on Saturday. Anastos has said he has not lost faith in the young freshman.

Freshman forward Logan Lambdin had the quote of the day on Tuesday when talking about what the Spartans needed to do better.

“We just need to work harder. We can’t think our skills are gonna complete the game for us and give us a win,” Lambdin said.

“We just need to work harder. We can’t think our skills are gonna complete the game for us and give us a win,” Lambdin said.”

Time will only tell if the rest of the team has realized this as well.

Denver University started their season in unceremonious fashion. Hosting the Ice Breaker Tournament, the Pioneers lost twice, to Ohio State and again to Boston College.  It looked as if it might be a slow start to the season for DU, but just last weekend the Pioneers completed a home sweep of No. 2 Boston University.

Denver’s trip out to East Lansing is the first time they’ve left the Mile High City this year, but this is an experienced DU team that has 13 upperclassmen including returning starter Tanner Jaillet between the pipes. While the Pioneers are experienced, they also have a nice mix of young talent as well. These young guns are led by freshman forward Henrik Borgstrom, a first round draft pick of the Florida Panthers.


Stats:

MSU–

GPG: 2.00 (T-41st)

GA: 6.5 (54th)

PP: .055 (48th)

PK: .625 (54th)

Denver–

GPG: 2.5 (T-36th)

GAA:  2.5 (T-18th)

PP: .148 (26th)

PK: .824 (T-35th)


Prediction:

The stats of the two teams tell an interesting tale. Michigan State is at or near the bottom of nearly every category. The Spartans have played only one series though and while these abysmal ratings may not tell the whole story, they do warrant a close watching. Where there is smoke, there is usually a fire.

Denver’s stats don’t necessarily yell a 6th ranked team. But when you realize that three of their first four games have been against top five competition, you start to understand why the Pioneers rank right in the middle of the pack in most categories.

Michigan State has to make great strides in order to be competitive, especially on special teams and goaltending. Until MSU can get those major aspects figured out, it’s hard to predict them having any type of success against a talented and deep team like Denver.

I predict the Pioneers will sweep the Spartans this weekend.