Spartan Icers To Battle Offensive Wildcats

Michigan State's hockey team is getting set to battle New Hampshire in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. GSN explains why the solid goaltending and defensive effort must continue for MSU against an offensive New Hampshire club.

OKEMOS,MI-The Spartan hockey team is getting read to do battle this week against New Hampshire in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and the defense and hot goaltending must continue for the Spartans to move on.

Hew Hampshire, which plays in Hockey East, is considered one of the better offensive clubs in that league and is set to test the Spartans.

Michigan State, 24-11-8 overall, will be taking on a New Hampshire team that boasts 20-12-7 overall record, and some of the top scorers in Hockey East.

The Wildcats have three of the top points leaders in Hockey East, and three of the top nine goal scorers in the league as well.

Forward Brett Hemingway is first on the team in goals with nineteen, and tied for second in points with 41. He is also tied for second in the league in power play goals with eleven, and is a guy to keep an eye on.

Forward Jacob Micflikier actually lead the Wildcats in points with 42 on sixteen goals and 22 assists, and is tied for third in Hockey East in total points. Both Micflikier and Hemingway each have three game winning goals.

Finally, forward Daniel Winnik has 15 goals and 26 assists, good for 41 points, and a tie for second in total points for New Hampshire.

On defense, the Wildcats Brian Yandle likes to get in the act offensively with six goals and 24 assists, which is tied for first in points for defensemen in Hockey East.

Blue-liner Craig Switzer is tied for ninth in the league with sixteen points.

Team wise, the Wildcats are fourth in the league with 3.08 goals per game, and sixth in goals allowed with 2.59. New Hampshire is also fourth in the league in points per game at 8.38, and assists at 5.31.

This is a team that likes to shoot the puck, leading Hockey East with 35.44 shots per game, and total shots with 1382. Which is 75 more shots than Maine's 1307.

New Hampshire has a potent power play which is 2nd in the league with a percentage of .201. The Wildcats 42 power-play goals is good enough for third in the league, and six short-handed goals leaves them tied for second.

Defensively, New Hampshire leads Hockey East overall in total saves with 1134 and have three shutouts to their credit with a save percentage of .920, good enough for fourth in Hockey East.

Their penalty killing teams are also solid at a rate of .862, with just 27 power play goals being given up in 195 chances.

They are 5th out of 10 teams in Hockey East in penalty minutes with 17.21 a game.

The goaltending might be the Wildcats slight weakness. They alternate in goal with Jeff Pietrasiak who has started 18 games, and with Kevin Regan who has started 21 games. Pietrasiak owns a 12-4-2 record with a 2.27 goals against average and a save percentage of .927. Regan has a 8-8-5 record, a 2.633 gaa, and a .914 save percentage.

In two losses to the Spartans in 2004, Regan gave up five goals to the Spartans, and Pietrasiak gave up four.

Against ranked opponents this year, New Hampshire is 8-7-5. The Wildacts are also a team that doesn't play well from behind. Owning a 1-10-5 record when trailing after two periods, but a perfect 14-0 record when ahead after two periods.

I see this is as favoring the Spartans in an up and down game that may be a little more wide open. If Spartan goalie Jeff Lerg can stay hot for MSU, and MSU continues with the strong defensive effort, they should get plenty of chances to put the puck in the net on the other end.

Smart hockey will be important for MSU. Don't led the three big scorers of New Hampshire get going, don't let New Hampshire's potent power play on the ice by taking silly penalties, etc. Another important factor for MSU is to get the lead early and continue to apply pressure. If this happens the Spartans could end up being a very happy hockey team.

Stay tuned for more exciting Spartan hockey coverage from GSN.

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