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Icers prepare for weekend series against Michigan

January 26, 2010

It’s Michigan Week and the No. 12 MSU hockey team is preparing for the rivalry series against the Wolverines.

The Spartans are coming off a heartbreaking loss Saturday to Ohio State, where MSU gave up the game-winning goal with 1:07 remaining in regulation.

MSU head coach Rick Comley talks about last weekend’s series about the Buckeyes and previews this weekend’s series against the Wolverines. Comley also talks about his appearance on Hockey Night in Canada, which will air on Saturday.

Editor’s note: This story was corrected to reflect that junior forward Corey Tropp has scored 17 goals this season.

There’s a buzz surrounding players on the MSU hockey team.

It’s Michigan week.

The No. 12 Spartans put Saturday’s devastating last-minute loss to Ohio State behind them, and now are going full force into this weekend’s series against the Wolverines.

“Every time we play Michigan we are chomping at the bit,” freshman defenseman Zach Josepher said. “It’s the Michigan vs. MSU rivalry and everybody knows about this rivalry. We are focused on it.”

After the Spartans swept the Wolverines earlier this season, the team undoubtably is excited for another crack against their archrivals, especially because U-M won all five meetings between the two last season.

“It’s probably the easiest game to get up for,” junior defenseman and co-captain Jeff Petry said. “If you can’t get up for that game, then I don’t know what you can get up for.”

But MSU head coach Rick Comley is trying to keep his team levelheaded and run practices as normal. He said there still are pressing concerns on his mind.

“The question is, can you still get better?” Comley said. “Is there more growth in this team? I think the biggest growth they have to get to is when the performance becomes consistent. That’s two weeks in a row now where we had one really good game and one average game.”

With the Spartans letting points slip away the past two weekends, the team recognizes the importance of padding their second-place standing in the conference race.

“You want to get some wins because the standings are getting closer and you want to make the push to stay in the top four,” sophomore forward Daultan Leveille said. ”That’s the big thing, we just want those six points.”

Going through the wall

In the month of January, the Spartans have posted a 2-2-2 record.

If the Spartans don’t earn at least a split this weekend against U-M, January will be the first month this season MSU posted a sub-.500 record.

Despite its struggles, don’t say the team is hitting a wall.

Although the Spartans typically dress nine freshmen every game, sophomore forward Trevor Nill said the young team still has plenty in the tank.

“There can be concern, but I’m not worried about these guys because they are such a great group of guys and they do work hard and care about the game,” Nill said. “I can’t tell you a single freshman who hasn’t worked hard this year. They all put so much effort into everything and want to get better.”

Trooper Tropp

For the first time since the Nov. 19 series against Notre Dame, Ohio State held junior forward Corey Tropp to only one point in a weekend series.

Tropp’s point came from an assist on Saturday, but he also recorded seven of the Spartans’ 19 shots of the night.

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With eight regular season games remaining, Tropp needs only three goals to reach the 20-goal plateau.

He would be the first Spartan since Bryan Lerg and Tim Kennedy to reach the milestone, both of whom finished with 20 goals in 2007.

“He’s one of the best offensive zone players in the country,” Comley said of Tropp. “He’s strong, he battles for the puck, he takes hits and he plays to make something good happen. He’s done a really great job.”


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