The first round of the CCHA playoffs is ongoing for four teams, but Michigan has secured its place in the quarterfinals with a sweep of Northern Michigan.
The Wolverines defeated Northern Michigan, 3-2, on Friday night with all of Michigan’s goals coming in the first period. Senior forward Kevin Lynch scored the second and third, coming about three minutes apart.
Saturday night, a 6-2 Michigan victory secured the sweep. Freshman forward Andrew Copp was the star of the game, netting two goals.
Bowling Green and Lake Superior State are heading to a third game after splitting the first two, as are MSU and Alaska.
Lake Superior came out on top, 2-0, Friday, and Bowling Green responded with a 6-3 win the following night. The two will meet again at 7:05 p.m. on Sunday in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
The first five teams in the CCHA — Miami (Ohio), Notre Dame, Western Michigan, Ohio State and Ferris State — all received first round byes and will begin the playoffs in the quarterfinals.
Although only four seniors currently are active on this season’s MSU hockey roster, those players came in with a class of nine. Here is some information on the other five players:
Torey Krug (defenseman): A two-time captain, Krug made statements throughout his time at MSU, earning All-American accolades and earning becoming a Hobey Baker Memorial Award candidate. Krug forwent his senior season for a professional contract with the Boston Bruins, and currently is playing with the Providence Bruins.
Derek Grant (forward): After appearing on MSU’s top line as a freshman and leading MSU in scoring his second year, Grant signed with the Ottawa Senators on March 10, 2011. He played with Ottawa’s AHL team for the rest of that season and claimed the Calder Cup.
Dean Chelios (forward): Chelios will red-shirt the current season and look to return to the lineup next year.
Zach Golembiewski (forward): After playing his first two seasons with MSU, a medical condition was discovered in his back and forced him into retirement. He will be honored in Saturday’s senior day ceremony with the four current seniors.
Zach Josepher (defenseman): Spent most of his first year paired with now-senior Matt Grassi. He had six assists in 20 games his sophomore year. He transferred to Oswego State University of New York for his junior and senior seasons.
“Additional thoughts from MSU hockey seniors”
When asked about their favorite memories of the year, Grassi and seniors Anthony Hayes and Kevin Walrod all had similar answers: winning the Great Lakes Invitational freshman year and sweeping Michigan, but senior Chris Forfar had quite a different response.
“Watching (Branden) Carney be able to skate in the Penn State was really cool,” Forfar said. “I know how much he sacrificed to get to Michigan State and it was an unfortunate accident that happened, but to see him smile, seeing how big his smile was when he skated out to the blue line was something I don’t think any of us will ever forget.”
The four players, like most seniors, are going through very real emotions as the ends of their college hockey careers and college years are in sight.
Here are some of their thoughts on the weeks ahead:
“Going into this weekend, knowing it’s going to be my last two games at Munn, they’re going to be a little emotional, I’m sure,” Grassi said. “I’m going to make sure I leave it all on the ice, but I can’t believe it. Over the summer last year I was thinking, obviously, ‘Oh no, I’m going into my senior year, (but) I still gotta full year left, it won’t go by that quickly.’ But I was wrong. It has gone by that quickly.”
“We just want to leave as good role models, both on and off the ice,” Hayes said. “All four of us do extremely well in class. We all work as hard as anybody else when we come to the rink. We just want to leave the legacy of being high-character people. We give our all regardless of what we’re doing whether it’s in class, whether it’s on the ice, so we want to be able to leave that. There’s many times where we haven’t been afraid to put the team’s needs in front of our personal aspirations and that’s something that you have to do to have a successful team.”
When asked of her favorite moments and players through all the years she’s been involved with MSU hockey, Janeen Geisenahaver said a few moments stick out.
The first memory she mentioned was the NCAA Frozen Four in Lake Placid, N.Y. It was only four years after the U.S. team had won the Olympics there, and she said the vibe in the air was tangible.
She also had the opportunity to see former MSU goaltender Chad Alban score an empty-netter. The goal came on Feb. 28, 1998 on senior’s night and Alban scored MSU’s sixth goal in a 6-3 win over Ferris State.
As a fan of travel as well as hockey, following MSU hockey has given Geisenhaver the opportunity to discover places and cities she wouldn’t otherwise. She said it can take her and her friend Pam Echterling seven hours to drive 90 miles because if they see an interesting billboard, they’ll stop to look around.
“One particular trip, we were going from Columbus, Ohio, to Oxford, (Ohio), which was a 90-minute drive,” Geisenhaver said. “We saw a billboard and we were in this town all day. There were four of us, and we made it to the hockey game just in time.”
Friday night, four former Spartans took the ice on the professional stage in the Detroit Red Wings game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Justin Abdelkader and Drew Miller donned the red and white, while Jeff Petry and Corey Potter represent the Oilers. Shawn Horcoff also is a former Spartan and current Edmonton Oiler, but is out with a broken knuckle.
The Red Wings came out on top, 2-1, but regardless of the outcome of the game, it was a neat moment for Spartan hockey fans.
Abdelkader played a season with Miller and Potter (2005-06) and Petry (2007-08). Miller and Potter played together from the 2003-04 season until the 2005-06 year.
The four make up a part of the 69 total MSU hockey players that went on to play in the National Hockey League. Sixteen of those players were active in the 2011-12 NHL season.
College Hockey, Inc.’s new statistics system is not only useful, but also very entertaining for finding the answers to completely random NCAA hockey things nobody will need the answer to.
I was playing around with the system today, and here are a few fun facts I dug up:
Mercyhurst’s Paul Chiasson has the most goals since New Year’s Eve (10).
Michigan and Ohio State lead the CCHA in short-handed goals in the first period with two. One of Michigan’s short-handed first period goals came Saturday against MSU when Derek DeBlois scored at 10:34 into the period.
Michigan’s Jacob Trouba leads D-I hockey in goals by freshmen defensemen (8).
St. Lawrence goaltender Matt Weninger played more minutes in November than any other goaltender (548:43)
St. Lawrence’s Kyle Flanagan leads D-I hockey in assists during away games on Fridays while his team is leading on the scoreboard.
MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand leads D-I goaltenders in minutes played at a neutral site.
Mercyhurst has scored the most goals in the final minute of away games (7).