Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Michigan State Spartans Host Niagara Purple Eagles Series Preview


Michigan State welcomes the Niagara Purple Eagles to Munn Ice Arena for the first home series of the 2012-13 season. This series should prove to be more of a contest than last week against Minnesota.

Michigan States record sits at 0-2-0 after getting blitzed by No. 1 Minnesota in their opening road series last week. They dropped a 5-1 and 7-1 decision to the Gophers, and in both games Minnesota had huge first periods that put the Spartans behind by a hand-full early. Last year Michigan State went 11-5-1 when scoring first, but only 8-11-3 when allowing their opponent to do so. The Spartans were also 1-13-1 when scoring two goals or fewer, but 18-3-3 when scoring three or more.

The Spartan failed to capitalize on five different power-play chances in the Minnesota series. The Gophers on the other hand managed to convert on two power plays oppurtunities. However, neither one were on 5 on 4 power plays from minority penalties. The first Gopher power play goal came on a 5 on 3 and the second came during a five minute major penalty. Minnesota had ten total power play opportunities, twice as many as the Spartans.

The Niagara Purple Eagles should be less of a challenge for the Spartans than the No. 1 team was.

This year the Purple Eagles have recorded a 1-1-1 start, with a 2-2 tie against Bowling Green, a 10-2 loss to Colgate, and a 2-1 victory over Mercyhurst.

This will be the second time the two teams have met and Niagara will be the only member of the Atlantic Hockey Conference that Michigan State will play this regular season. The last series between the two came ten years ago in November 2002 at Munn, with the Purple Eagles taking game one 2-1 and the Spartans taking game two 5-4. Last year, Niagara finished the season 17-11- 9, and was second in their conference.

Yet, Michigan State has been undefeated at home in non-conference play over the last two seasons. The home ice advantage should bring some spark to the Spartan lineup. If they can set the tone early and make fewer mistakes than they did against Minnesota, the Spartans will have a great shot at taking the series.

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Tags: Hockey Michigan State Spartans