Michigan State Spartans Hockey Season – The Good & The Bad

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With the series split against fellow conference basement dweller Northern Michigan, the Spartans will remain at the bottom of the CCHA basement. But things are not all bad in East Lansing.

The Good

The Spartans track record is positive. MSU has been in the league for 31 season and has never finished as the worst team.

The last time Michigan State finished at the very bottom of a conference happened in the 1980-81 season. Coincidentally, like the 1980-81 season, this will be the Spartans final season in their conference. After 1980-81 the Spartans moved from the WCHA to the CCHA, and after 2012-13 the Spartans will move from the CCHA to the Big Ten Conference.

Another coincidence is that the 1980-81 season also happened to be head coach Ron Mason’s second season. Tom Anastos played for Michigan State under Ron Mason, and it is also his second year as the Spartan head coach.

When it comes to on ice play MSU has been a middle of the road team when it comes to special teams. However the Spartans have been among the most disciplined  teams in the conference, tying Bowling Green and Ohio State for an average of only 12 penalty minutes per game. The only team that has been more disciplined  is Michigan, with just slightly less penalty minutes per game at 11.9.

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Among Michigan State’s particular players there are plenty of bright stars that will likely become key pieces for the Spartans in the future.

Jake Hildebrand has emerged as one of the most dominant goalies in the CCHA, and he’s only a freshmen. He has a 2.28 goals against average and a .930% save percentage (The best save percentage among freshmen starters), all despite his team skating poorly in front of him.

Young sophomore forward Matt Berry is becoming a dominant scorer and leads the team in scoring with 22 points in 31 games. He also has been the most dominant sniper on the team with 12 goals. Berry will only continue to get better in his next two years of college play.

Thomas Ebbing of the USHL’s Chicago Steel has recently committed to Michigan State. He’s produced 20 points in 37 games for the Steel this season and was selected to play in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January. Ebbing was also listed as No. 100 among North American skaters in the midterm rankings of NHL Central Scouting.

Ebbing is a Troy, Michigan native and will join fellow Steel teammate and highly touted recruit Mackenzie MacEachern in East Lansing next season. The two were also teammates  in high school, playing hockey at Brother Rice, and will hopefully bring their long developed chemistry to the Spartan team.

The Bad

 Starting with the basics, the Spartans record is not great. They are 7-16-1 with 22 points in conference play this year and 9-20-3 in overall NCAA play.

This record is partially due to Michigan State’s inability to turn it on early in two game series’s this year. The Spartans have only won the first game of a two game series twice this year.

Being slow to start in actual games has been one of the Spartans main problems this season as well. Michigan State’s best period has clearly been the 3rd period all season. It is the only period in which they have more goals for than they do against.

There are also only 4 games left in the regular season for Michigan State this season (2 against Alaska and 2 against Western Michigan), leaving not a lot of time for the Spartans to dig themselves out of their hole. Hopefully they finish the season as strong as they finish games and series’s.