Miami v. Michigan State – CCHA Playoffs Round Two

On the strength of a 2-to-1 road series victory over Alaska, the Michigan State Spartans (13-24-3) advance to face the CCHA regular season champions, Miami (22-9-5), in round two of the CCHA playoffs. The Spartans, who finished dead last in the CCHA, won games 1 and 3 of the close fought series against the Nanooks to advance to challenge Miami in Oxford for the second consecutive year in the playoffs.

Last year Miami dominated MSU by 6-0 and 4-1 scores to end the Spartans CCHA season and advance to the league championship weekend in Detroit. However, head coach Tom Anastos’ MSU squad squeaked into the NCAA tournament where they were ousted in the first round by Union en route to a Frozen Four appearance.

Since 2005, Miami is just 13-8-1 against Michigan State, showing the Spartan program is still dangerous and that Miami must take them seriously this weekend. In the CCHA playoffs, Miami owns a 2-1 record against MSU (since 2005) with the lone loss coming in the CCHA championship game in March of 2006 at Joe Louis Arena.

This weekend’s series is a best-of-three second round matchup that pits the league’s top defensive squad, Miami, against the lowest scoring team in the conference in Michigan State. Needless to say, if the Spartans have any chance this weekend, they must hold Miami to 2 goals or less to have a realistic chance of winning a game, much less the series. The RedHawks meanwhile will be looking to get to the three goal plateau. When the Hawks score three goals or more, they are unbeaten at 17-0-1. However, when they net two goals or fewer, Miami is just 5-9-4 showing they can be vulnerable to low scoring affairs. Of course, that plays into the hands of the Spartans who have two capable netminders in junior Will Yanakeff (3.13/.901) and freshman Jake Hildebrand (2.33/.929). Earlier this year, the teams played a series in Oxford resulting in a 2-2 tie (SOW win for Miami) on Friday and a 2-0 Miami win on Saturday. This is notable because Hildebrand and Miami freshman Jay Williams faced off in both games as Ryan McKay was on the shelf due to his injury suffered in the Michigan series. On Saturday, Williams had to make only 13 saves to record his first career shutout with the Red and White. It will be interesting to see if head coach Enrico Blasi goes with McKay both nights or if he reinstates the rotation. As of late, Rico has been favoring McKay, but as we all know, that can change at a moment’s notice. With Williams having success against MSU earlier this year, it’s certainly conceivable he goes back to the freshman from McLean, Va. this weekend.

The best-of-three series faces-off at 7:35pm EST on Friday night from Steve Cady Arena. Game two will be played at 7:05pm EST from SCA and game three, if necessary, will also face-off at 7:05pm EST.

With the students out of town on Spring Break, seats should be available all weekend by calling the Miami ticket office at 1-866-MUHAWKS (1-866-684-2957), logging on to MURedHawks.com or stopping by the Goggin Ice Arena ticket office. Currently, the games are scheduled to be broadcast on Miami All-Access but not nationally televised.

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Posted on March 13, 2013, in 2012-13 News, 2012-13 Weekend Previews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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