It's fitting that Michigan is playing against Little Brother this week, given that Brian Hoyer got to be Tom Brady's water boy in another Super Bowl, Mario Manningham made a game-changing play that gave Greg Jones a chance to propose to his girlfriend, and the eyes of the hockey world were on Ann Arbor as the NHL wants to play their Winter Classic at Marcia, Marcia, Marcia's stadium! It's not fair, dammit!
Anyway, Friday night's game is at Munn Library and Ice Arena while Saturday's contest will be at Joe Louis Arena. The Big Ten Network and Fox Sports Detroit will air the respective games.
The Wolverines will play Friday night without Chris Brown, who was suspended for his altercation with Miami's Will Weber on Saturday night.
The Shartans sit in a tie with LSSU for seventh place in the CCHA, though FYS is just one point behind Ohio and Miami and has two games in hand on both of them.
Sparty returns home after playing their last four on the road. They were swept by Ferris State and then swept the Buckeyes in Columbus, as Ohio continues their free-fall from the top spot in the rankings to possibly landing out of the NCAA Tournament.
They rank 15th in the nation in offense at 3.13 goals per game, but have just one player with 10+ goals, and that's Mike Merrifield with 11. They do, however, have six players with 8+ goals. Sophomore forward Lee Reimer leads the team in points with 8-19--27. Torey Krug has 8-16--24 from back on the blueline, including five goals on the power play.
Merrifield got off to a very fast start, but has only put up 3-1--4 since the start of December. Assist-leader Reimer has been in a slump as well. He has just four assists in 2012 and hasn't scored since a 1-1--2 performance the last time these teams met at Munn. Krug has 10 points in his last 7.
In net, it's been almost a dead-split between DREW PALMISANO IS FROM ANN ARBOR and Willie Yanakeff, who played for the NTDP in Ann Arbor. Yanakeff has outperformed the senior, however. He has a 10-5-1 record to Palmisano's 5-6-3. Yanakeff leads in GAA 2.37 to 2.77 and has a .927 save percentage compared to Palmisano's .914. That said, the Wolverines put four past Yanakeff at Yost, and Palmisano has given up 7 on 87 shots in two games against Michigan (a shootout win when he acted like they won the Stanley Cup and an overtime loss in the GLI).
Palmisano has only played three games since the GLI Championship game, and has given up 11 goals, including 9 in his last two starts. Yanakeff has played in seven games this calendar year and has three 40-save performances to his credit in that span. I'd imagine we'll see both goalies.
The Spartans have a 15.9% power play, which is actually one slot in the rankings behind Michigan's 16.1%. They've scored one fewer power play goal on five fewer chances with the man advantage. They're very good on the PK however. They rank second nationally with an 89.1% (and the team ahead of them is Robert Morris, so for all intents and purposes, the Spartans are the best penalty killing team in the country). They've given up 13 power play goals on 119 chances. Michigan has climbed the ranks up to #15, as they've been phenomenal since these teams last met. Michigan has given up 20 PPGs on 127 short-handed occasions (84.3%).
David Wohlberg has been an absolute Spartan-killer in his career. He is far and away the tops on the team against FYS, with a 9-8--17 line in 18 career games. The next highest on the Wolverines in points is Chris Brown, with 8 in 13 games. He'll only get one crack at them this weekend.
Shawn Hunwick is 6-2-1 with a 1.94/.929 against Michigan State in his career.