Saturday, December 4, 2021

Icers remain nations top team despite weekend tie

December 6, 2000
Sophomore goaltender Ryan Miller goes down for a save while sophomore defenseman John-Michael Liles (4) holds back Lake Superior State right wing Aaron Phillips at a recent game at Munn Ice Arena. —

The top-ranked Spartan hockey team slipped a little bit, but remained the nation’s consensus No. 1.

MSU (11-1-3 overall, 8-1-2 CCHA) lost eight No. 1 votes in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll to second place North Dakota after a win and a tie at Bowling Green last weekend.

The Fighting Sioux (12-2-4) swept Alaska-Anchorage on the road.

The Spartans have 30 first-place votes and 590 points compared to North Dakota’s 10 first-place votes and 560 points in the USCHO ranking. MSU led the Sioux by 71 points in last week’s poll.

MSU maintained its 14 first-place votes in the USA Today poll, but North Dakota picked up its fourth first-place vote and narrowed the gap from 25 to 13 points.

“We just want to focus on every game,” senior left wing Damon Whitten said. “We can’t let being number one make us think we’re better than we are.”

Boston College, Michigan and New Hampshire round out the top five of both polls.

In addition to the Spartans and Wolverines, three other CCHA teams are in this week’s rankings.

Western Michigan is No. 6 in both polls and Ohio State is No. 15 in the USCHO, while Northern Michigan claims that spot in the USA Today ranking.

Jackson ranked NHL prospect

Freshman center Jeremy Jackson is ranked the 26th best prospect for the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau.

Jackson has netted seven goals, nine assists and is tied for second on the team with 16 points in his rookie campaign.

“He’s really shifty,” MSU head coach Ron Mason said. “He’s making some plays like (former MSU center and current New York Ranger) Mike York used to make, but York had that extra little tug to finish the play.”

The 5-foot-9 157-pound Langley, British Columbia native is among 14 CCHA players on the list, the most of any college hockey league.

Ohio State boasts the top-rated skater and goaltender on the list. Center R.J. Umberger and goaltender Mike Betz are ranked No. 1 at their respective positions.

Ohio State and Bowling Green have the most prospects on the list of any CCHA team with four each.

Six current Spartans have already been drafted by the NHL.

Junior right wing Adam Hall and junior defenseman Andrew Hutchinson are the property of the Nashville Predators, sophomore center Troy Ferguson and sophomore defenseman Brad Fast were drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes and sophomore defenseman John-Michael Liles has been drafted by the Colorado Avalanche.

The Buffalo Sabres have the rights to sophomore goaltender Ryan Miller.

Streaking

The Spartans are riding a 12-game unbeaten streak (10-0-2) into their home-and-home series against Ferris State this weekend.

The streak is their longest since reeling off 23 straight (18-0-5) during the 1998-99 season.

MSU is also undefeated on the road this year, posting a 7-0-1 mark. It has not lost at Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, the site of Friday’s game, since Oct. 30, 1990.

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