Saturday, February 4, 2023

Preview: No. 11 Michigan State to face Ferris State in first round of Great Lakes Invitational

December 27, 2022
<p>Junior forward Michael Ferrantino faces off against Ferris State forward Kyle Schempp on Dec. 28, 2014, during the 50th Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Spartans defeated the Bulldogs, 2-0. Danyelle Morrow/The State News</p>

Junior forward Michael Ferrantino faces off against Ferris State forward Kyle Schempp on Dec. 28, 2014, during the 50th Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Spartans defeated the Bulldogs, 2-0. Danyelle Morrow/The State News

Photo by Danyelle Morrow | The State News

Coming off a two week break for the holidays, No. 11 Michigan State (12-7-1, 6-5-1 Big Ten) returns to the ice for a semifinal matchup with Ferris State in the Great Lakes Invitational on Dec. 27 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.

The Spartans are back in action following a series split with rival No. 7 Michigan on Dec. 9 and 10. MSU took the first game at home 2-1 before falling to Michigan in game two in Ann Arbor. 

The GLI returns to tournament-style play for the first time since 2019. Michigan State has not won the tournament title since 2009. This year’s invitational features MSU, Ferris State, No. 17 Michigan Tech and No. 18 Western Michigan. 

After a promising start to the year, clinching a GLI championship would start MSU off on the right foot heading into the second half of the season. The Spartans have a challenging string of opponents left, with rematches against Ohio State, Minnesota, Penn State and Michigan still on the schedule.

“It's a tournament that's really important to our school and important to our alumni base and yeah, I think it can really springboard the second half (of the season),” Men's Ice Hockey Head Coach Adam Nightingale said. “I also think we want to keep that same approach that we're focused on trying to get better, and so our first game against Ferris, we want to play our best game of the year.”

Scouting the opponents 

Ferris State

After splitting its series with St. Thomas (MINN) two weeks ago, Ferris State sits at 8-8-2 overall (6-5-1 CCHA), winning five of the last seven games. The Spartans are 3-1-1 with the Bulldogs when played at neutral sites.

Looking at the stats, MSU averages 3.20 goals (fifth in Big Ten) to FSU’s 2.67 (first in CCHA). At the same time, the Spartans surrender 2.55 goals per game (fourth in Big Ten) while the Bulldogs allow 3.11 (seventh in CCHA).

On the power play, Ferris State ranks seventh in the CCHA at .163 (13-80). MSU is currently fourth in the Big Ten with .203 (14-69).

Like MSU, the Bulldogs have done a relatively good job distributing scoring efforts so far this season. 

Junior forward Stepan Pokorny and sophomore forward Bradley Marek lead the team in scoring with 12 points each. Pokorny notched six goals and six assists for 12 points, while Marek has five goals and seven assists. Senior forward Jason Brancheau follows with 10 points on the year. 

When it comes to goaltending, sophomore Noah Giesbrecht and junior Logan Stein have split duties in the net this season. Giesbrecht has appeared in 11 games with 287 saves, a GAA of 2.67 and .914 save percentage. Meanwhile, Stein has 247 saves, a 3.24 GAA and a .905 save percentage in nine games. 

MSU's graduate goaltender Dylan St. Cyr continues to be an asset for the Spartans, holding a 2.43 GAA and 569 saves. St. Cyr is tied for first place in the Big Ten and 16th nationally with a .925 save percentage.

Michigan Tech

GLI reigning champs, the No. 17 Huskies are the second-highest ranked team in the tournament, behind MSU. Sitting at 11-5-3 overall, MTU also ranks second in the CCHA behind Bemidji State. In games played at neutral sites, MSU is 24-10-1 versus Michigan Tech. 

MTU averages 2.95 goals per game (fourth in CCHA) and allows 3.05 (first in CCHA). The Huskies rank sixth in the CCHA on the power play at .164 (12-73).

Junior forward Ryland Mosley leads MTU with nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points. Mosley also ranks first nationally in game-winning goals (4) and second in shorthanded goals (3). Freshman forward Kyle Kukkonen trails with 14 points on seven goals and seven assists. 

In the net, senior goaltender Blake Pietila has recorded 426 saves, a GAA of 1.98 and a .928 save percentage on the year. 

Western Michigan

Support student media! Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.

With a 10-9-1 overall record, Western Michigan currently ranks No. 18 in the nation, one spot below its first GLI opponent, Michigan Tech. MSU is 3-3-1 when facing WMU at neutral sites.

WMU averages 3.85 goals per game (first in NCHC) and allows 3.00 (sixth in NCHC). The Broncos are .256 (22-86) on power plays, ranking fourth in the NCHC. 

Freshman forward Ryan McAllister leads the Broncos and the nation in points with 33. McAllister also ranks first in the nation with 23 assists. 

As for goaltending, junior Cameron Rowe holds 406 saves, a 2.91 GAA and .886 save percentage so far this season. 

Possible scenarios for day two of the tournament

A win over Ferris State would send Michigan State to the GLI Championship game on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m., where it would face the winner of the Michigan Tech and Western Michigan game. MTU versus WMU is scheduled for Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. prior to MSU’s matchup with FSU.

If the Spartans fall to the Bulldogs, they will play the loser of WMU versus MTU in a third-place game Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. 

“They're very important games even though they're out of conference," graduate student forward and captain Miroslav Mucha said. "They're important for us in the national rankings. Winning these games will set us up for a great momentum going into league play.”

MSU versus FSU puck drop is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m. The tournament games will not be televised, but web streaming is available on FloHockey.

Discussion

Share and discuss “Preview: No. 11 Michigan State to face Ferris State in first round of Great Lakes Invitational” on social media.