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Hockey prepares to faceoff against Miami (Ohio)

January 19, 2001

It’s been six years since a team has swept a series from MSU at Munn Ice Arena.

But Miami, the most recent team to accomplish the feat, will be gunning for a repeat this weekend.

In February 1995, the RedHawks stormed into Munn and departed with 1-0 and 3-2 wins, but this year’s Spartans (18-1-4 overall, 11-1-3 CCHA) are ranked No. 1 and riding a 20-game unbeaten streak into tonight’s contest.

Tonight will be the first meeting between the schools this season.

“I think right now it’s pretty neat to play a team you haven’t played in awhile,” MSU head coach Ron Mason said. “They have some quality offensive hockey players on that team and if you don’t watch yourself, they’re going to score some goals on you.”

Miami (11-9-2, 8-5-1) boasts the CCHA’s third-best offense, scoring 3.36 goals per game, and owns the third-best power play with a .219 clip.

That offense will go head-to-head with MSU’s airtight defense which only gives up 1.26 goals per game, the best in the nation.

The Spartan defense is spearheaded by sophomore goaltender Ryan Miller, who has allowed two or fewer goals in 20 of his last 21 starts. The Hobey Baker candidate also owns the country’s best saves percentage at .951.

With a shutout this weekend, Miller could tie the modern-day career shutouts record of 14 held by former Michigan All-American Marty Turco. The all-time record of 16 shutouts was set in 1931.

“We’re focusing a lot on our team defense in the zone this weekend,” Miller said. “Miami’s got a good offense that’s going to test us. They like to cycle (the puck) just like we do and they’ve got some strong boys.”

MSU is coming off a dramatic weekend in which they netted three late-game goals to earn a sweep of Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie. Sophomore right wing Steve Jackson said the series was a wake-up call for the Spartans.

“It showed us that we can lose,” Jackson said. “It’s an inspiration to us. We know we have to play our best game and can’t take any team lightly.”

Mason, who will coach his 700th career CCHA game tonight, said he’s not worried about his team’s lack of power play production, even after MSU went 1-for-11 against Lake Superior.

“Power plays come and go, but we got the one power play goal that made the difference,” Mason said about senior center Andrew Bogle’s game-tying man-advantage tally with five seconds left in regulation. “If we wouldn’t have scored on that power play, then I would’ve said ‘Wow, our power play really destroyed us this weekend.’”

Notebook: Spartan fans who can’t get into Munn for the game can still catch the action on TV. Tonight’s game will be the first of six Spartan CCHA games televised on Fox Sports Detroit.

Injury report: Mason said junior center Joe Goodenow will not play this weekend. He has missed 11 games this season, including the last three, with a right shoulder injury.

On the other hand, freshman center Jeremy Jackson will play against Miami. He did not return to last Sunday’s game against Lake Superior after being checked head-first into the boards.

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