It's Time: Spartan Icers To Take On Miami

The Michigan State hockey team is poised and ready to take on Miami of Ohio in a showdown that will be the key indicator of where MSU will end up in the postseason.

OKEMOS,MI-Well here we go folks, The Michigan State Spartan hockey team is now set and ready to take on the Miami of Ohio Redhawks in a key weekend hockey series.

Miami(OH) has already clinched the title on Tuesday with a win over Ohio State, but there is plenty left to play for this week.

Right now, the Spartans at (17-10-7), are projected between a 7th and 9th seed for a NCAA berth, and must have a good showing, or potentially damage their NCAA hopes altogether.

The Redhawks (21-5-4) overall, will be a stiff test for MSU this weekend. A strong finish could ensure the Spartans of a first round bye, as they look to strengthen their PWR rating and fight for 2nd place in the CCHA.

A key factor in this kind of series will be the goaltending, as both teams have two solid goaltenders they can choose from. For MSU, Jeff Lerg has a 2.04 goals against average, and .927 save percentage. MSU can also go to Dominic Vicari who has a 2.62 goals against average, and a .896 save percentage.

For Miami in net,Jeff Zatkoff has a 1.75 goals against average, and Charlie Effinger has a 1.76 gaa. Both have save percentages over 93 percent.

For MSU, they must get get good goaltending, and, clear the puck in what looks like close, low scoring games.

Miami is also excellent on killing penalties and clearing the puck. So MSU will have to forecheck to have any opportunity to win these games.

Michigan State defensively is also going to have to keep an eye on two guys that have hurt them in the past in Marty Guerin, who has five goals and three assists in eight games against MSU, and and Andy Green, who has a goal and five assists in 6 games versus MSU. Sophomores Ryan Jones and Nathan Davis also have seven game winning goals between them this year, and are equally as dangerous.

MSU has been sparked by the Lerg cousins. In goal, Jeff Lerg has been solid as previously mentioned, and Bryan Lerg had eleven goals and 19 assists.

The freshmen line of Justin Abdelkader, Tim Kennedy, and Tim Crowder has come on with the experience they have gained over time this year.

MSU veterans David Booth, Colton Fretter, Tyler Howells, and Drew Miller must be at their best when getting goal scoring opportunities. Taking advantages of the chances they get will also be critical for MSU.

Another thing going for MSU is home ice, where they have a 61-19-5 record overall versus Miami, and a home ice record of 33-11-5 versus the Redhawks in their history. Coupling that with hopefully a letdown after Miami clinched the CCHA title could help MSU.

Miami's defense is stifling, and has not allowed a lot of shots on goal, thus leading to better goal tending statistics.

Miami is not great on power play situations, but they don't give up much on the power play either. MSU will have win to neutral and middle ice, and forecheck, and keep the pressure on. MSU will have to work for their goals and make them stand up to have a chance.

Miami also has five of the top eight players in the CCHA in terms of the (+/-)category. Which means they work hard, and do the little things right.

MSU can win these games, but it will mean putting constant pressure on Miami's defense, and not throwing weak shots on goal. It will take consistent and solid goal scoring chances for the Spartans to beat the Redhawks this week.

GSN will have a wrapup of the games as they are played. Friday's can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit, and both games can be heard on 1240am radio (Lansing).

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