Conference Powers Face Off

The Spartans face a tough home-and-home matchup against Notre Dame Friday, at Munn, and Saturday, in South Bend. A productive blue line and power play will be keys to victory for Michigan State.

EAST LANSING- After getting off to the best first half of coach Rick Comley's tenure at Michigan State, the Spartans have struggled, winning just one of their last four games, all of which came against unranked opponents.

Last weekend, Michigan State defeated Lake Superior State 8-2 Friday night, but was only able to manage a 3-3 tie Saturday against the league's last place team on home ice. "Overall I thought we played fine," said Comley. "We had a chance, I thought, to build a good lead, and just didn't get it done."

The current streak has seen the Spartans drop out of the top five in national rankings for the first time this season, falling to number ten in the country.

Things don't get any easier for the Green-and-White this weekend with a home-and-home series against number six Notre Dame.

The last time these two teams faced off, in the NCAA playoffs last season, the Spartans eliminated top seeded Notre Dame 2-1 on their way to the national title.

"They're skilled and they're dangerous," said Comley. "We're the team that ended their dream season, so I'm sure there is going to be some carry-over from that."

The Spartans are 58-32-8 all time against the Fighting Irish and have won seven of the last eight meetings. The Irish come in having lost two of their last three games, including a disappointing loss at Northern Michigan last Friday.

The Irish are led by junior right wing Erik Condra. Condra, a native of Livonia, has ten goals this season on his way to a team high 26 points.

Despite recent struggles, the Spartans have the second fewest losses in CCHA play with two, both of which came against then-top ranked Miami.

A key to the Green-and-White's success this season has been the offensive output from the blue line. Michigan State has the top defensive scoring unit in the country averaging 2.86 points per game and has been led by sophomore Mike Ratchuk with 18 points. Ratchuk also earned CCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors for his play against Lake Superior State last weekend.

Michigan State also boasts the nation's fifth-best power play, capitalizing 23 percent of the time with the man advantage. Junior Tim Kennedy anchors the Spartan power play with seven goals and leads the team with 23 total points.

The Spartans will need to continue their success on the power play and match the physicality of the Irish to get valuable points in the tightening CCHA race.

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