Spartans Open Tournament with Tough Foe

The Michigan State icers face a resilient Northern Michigan squad in the Spartans' opening series of the CCHA tournament. In addition to playing well for the last couple months of the regular season, which included a weekend series sweep of the Green and White, the Wildcats bounced back to win the final two games in their initial postseason series against Ohio State.

EAST LANSING – A bunch of Yoopers gave some trolls fits this season.

Two of the best teams in the CCHA, Michigan State and Michigan (the trolls who live under the Mackinac bridge) had their hands full with the Upper Peninsula's Northern Michigan, the Spartans' first opponent in the conference tournament.

Spartan fans remember the sting of an early February sweep up north in Marquette to a determined Wildcat squad. Only a week prior, NMU tied the Wolverines twice in a pair of games in Ann Arbor.

Recent success aside, the Wildcats overall record against their southern brethren was an unspectacular, but certainly reasonable, 2-4-2 for the season. But what makes their case for being a tough opponent is a closer look at the numbers.

Early in the season, NMU lost four games to the powers in question, swept by both in back-to-back series in late October. Only one of those games, however, was decided by more than one point; NMU lost the four games by a combined five goals. Plus, all but one was tied at some point in the third period and the Wildcats lost one game to Michigan in the final 30 seconds.

Later in the season, NMU exacted some revenge in the span of eight days, earning six points in four games against the titans of the CCHA.

(The conference's second place team, Miami, trounced Northern 9-2 and also held on for a 3-2 win, but those games came in early November at the tail end the toughest part of NMU's schedule.)

So when the puck drops this Friday night in Munn Arena, the Spartans need to be ready for a dangerous Northern Michigan team: They have a 7-3-3 record since the beginning of last month; they disposed of Ohio State in their opening series of the CCHA tournament after losing game one; and the Wildcats scored 13 goals in those three games.

Pretty good hockey, no matter what peninsula you're from.

All games at Munn Ice Arena
Fri., March 14 – 7:35 p.m.; Radio – WJIM 1240 AM; TV – FSN Detroit
Sat., March 15 – 7:05 p.m.; Radio – WJIM 1240 AM
Sun., March 16– 7:05 p.m. (if necessary); Radio – TBA


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