EAST LANSING- Two of the most storied programs in college hockey will face off this weekend when fifth-ranked Michigan State (16-5-4) takes on the nation's top ranked team, Michigan (22-2-0).
The Michigan State-Michigan series has been played more then any other college series, with the teams facing-off 265 times. The teams have skated to six ties since February of 2005, but the Wolverines hold the all time series edge 131-117-17.
This series is critical to both teams in the CCHA standings. The Spartans trail the first place Wolverines by just four points.
"This should be a fun series," said coach Rick Comley. "If we want any hope of trying to catch them and Miami, obviously we have to do well this weekend."
Goalie Jeff Lerg stands out in net for the Spartans. The Livonia native boasts a 2.88 goals-against average, and a .922 save percentage. Both rank among the top in the CCHA. Lerg has started 24 of 25 games this season and has won three consecutive CCHA goalie of the week awards.
"I've been trying to be a little more aggressive," Lerg said. "Keep the intensity up throughout the week so it carries over to the weekend."
Tim Kennedy leads the Michigan State offense. Kennedy, a Buffalo Sabers draft pick, leads the Spartans with 27 points, 13 goals and 14 assists. He has also recorded a point in five of the Spartans last six games.
The Wolverines are led by Hobey Baker candidate senior captain Kevin Porter. Porter leads the Wolverines with 39 points this season, including a team high 22 goals, 12 of which came on the power-play.
For the Spartans to sweep this weekend, special teams will be critical. The Spartans boast the nation's fourth-ranked power play, scoring nearly 23 percent of the time while converting eight for their last 29.
On the flip side, the Green and White have have killed off 28 successful penalties. But the Spartans will face a much stiffer test this weekend against the Wolverines, who hold the conference's third-ranked power play.
The puck drops Friday night at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor, and concludes Saturday back in East Lansing. Both games start at 7:30 and can be seen locally on Fox Sports Detroit.
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