PREVIEW: MSU vs North Dakota

For Michigan State to win this game they will need to slow down a finesse ND team with their neutral zone trap. If the trap can create turnovers and lead to odd man rushes for the Spartans they might be able to upset the nations top team in a hostile environment.

EAST LANSING - On Saturday night the Spartan hockey team begins their season on the road against the North Dakota Fighting Sioux in the annual U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.

The third ranked Spartans, who are coming off their first national title since 1988, will have their hands full with a North Dakota club ranked number one in both polls.

"They have up tempo wide open team," says MSU head coach Rick Comley. "For us its a good early test of where are we and where do we have to go."

This weekends game marks the 98th meeting between these two national powers with North Dakota leading the series at 61-35-2 including a 33-11-1 mark in Grand Forks.

Michigan State returns 20 letter winners from last years title team including 74% of its offense; the teams leading goal scorer and Senior Captain Bryan Lerg. Also returning is the Spartans entire top line of Tim Kennedy, Justin Abdelkader and Tim Crowder.

North Dakota who was 24-14-5 in 06-07 returns 19 letter winners from last years third consecutive frozen four team. Among the returning players are Hobey Baker award winner, junior forward Ryan Duncan, senior goalie Philippe Lamoureax, and Senior center Ryan Kailp.

Players to Watch
MSU Junior Goaltender Jeff Lerg:
Lerg was a catalyst for the Spartans last year starting all 42 games and accumulating a 26-13-3 record with a .913 save percentage. The 56 Lerg will need to play big early this year as the Spartans young defensemen gain experience.

ND Junior Forward TJ Oshie:
Oshie led the Fighting Sioux with 35 assists last year and had 51 points on his way to a third team WCCHA selection. Oshie, and Duncan will be joined by captain Ryan Kailp on NDs top line.

How MSU wins:
For Michigan State to win this game they will need to slow down a finesse ND team with their neutral zone trap. If the trap can create turnovers and lead to odd man rushes for the Spartans they might be able to upset the nations top team in a hostile environment.

How North Dakota wins:
North Dakota wins by dictating the tempo of the game. They need to use their speed and finesse to their advantage by keeping the puck out of the corners and along the perimeter in there offensive end.

Bottom Line: ND 3 MSU 1

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