Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Icers prepare for last place Ferris State

December 7, 2000

After having to battle back to earn three points from struggling Bowling Green last week, the MSU hockey team is looking to pick up four points from last place Ferris State this weekend.

The top-ranked Spartans (11-1-3 overall, 8-1-2 CCHA) and the Bulldogs (3-8-3, 1-7-2) will meet for the only time this season in a home-and-home series Friday and Saturday.

Friday’s game will be played at Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids and Saturday’s game at Munn Ice Arena, both at 7:05 p.m.

Despite Ferris’ record, senior right wing John Nail said they’re a talented team.

“I think they’re a deceiving team because of their record,” Nail said. “They’re a defensive-minded team that concentrates on traps and on mistakes.”

MSU head coach Ron Mason hopes his team will be ready to play in the wake of its two-game set at Bowling Green.

“It’s a pretty emotional place,” Mason said of Ewigleben. “It’s a little smaller than ours, but they use their rink to their advantage. Ferris has played us tooth and nails for years.”

The Spartans had to battle back from 2-0 and 1-0 deficits against the underdog Falcons last weekend to earn a 3-3 tie and 3-1 win.

“Last weekend taught us a little lesson; that you can’t judge a team by their record,” Nail said. “Everyone’s going to come out hard against the No. 1 team in the nation.”

The Bulldogs have posted a winning record (3-2-2) at home this season, but are a miserable 0-6-1 away from Ewigleben. They tied No. 15 Ohio State 1-1 at home in the second game of their series last weekend.

“We have to be ready to play every game no matter what the team’s record is,” freshman defenseman Joe Markusen said. “Ferris is able to play with top-end teams and when they’re on their game, they’re all over the ice.”

MSU holds a 49-21-11 series edge over the Bulldogs and has not lost at Ewigleben since Oct. 30, 1990.

Balanced scoring and steady goaltending from sophomore Ryan Miller has MSU on a 12-game unbeaten streak (10-0-2), the longest since the Spartans rattled off 23 (18-0-5) two seasons ago.

Senior right wing Rustyn Dolyny (4-13) and junior right wing Adam Hall (9-8) share the team lead with 17 points apiece, while freshman center Jeremy Jackson (7-9) and sophomore left wing Brian Maloney (7-9) are one behind.

Miller leads the CCHA with a 1.58 goal against average.

The Spartans are the consensus No. 1 team in the nation, sitting atop the U.S. College Hockey Online and USA Today polls.

“It’s a nice little thing to have, but I try not to think about it,” Markusen said. “You can’t let it go to your head.”

Mason, MSU’s coach of 22 years, said he is pleased with the team’s progress at the halfway point.

“How can I not be happy with where we are?” Mason asked. “We’re in first place and we’ve found other ways to win without having to rely on Ryan Miller. Our special teams have been good and we’ve been able to use both avenues to get wins.”

The Ferris series closes out the first half of the Spartans’ regular season.

“It’d be great to go into Christmas break with two wins and come out with a lot of confidence,” Markusen said.

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