By John Lachmann
WHO: Michigan State Spartans (13-23-3) at No. 3 Miami RedHawks (22-9-5).
WHAT: CCHA Tournament quarterfinal round, best-of-3 series.
WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday—7:35 p.m.; Saturday—7:05 p.m.; Sunday—7:05 p.m. (if necessary).
MIAMI RADIO: All three games—WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
MICHIGAN STATE RADIO: All three games—WVFN-AM (730), East Lansing, Mich.
NOTES: Despite a miserable season overall, Michigan State has won six of its last 10 games including 2-of-3 in its series win at Alaska last weekend.
The Spartans went 3-14-1 in their next 18 games after leaving Oxford in mid-November before their recent resurgence.
Michigan State’s offense has struggled all season. The Spartans are last in the CCHA in goals scored (82) as well as goals per game (2.10).
Sophomore forward Matt Barry has been MSU’s biggest offensive threat this season, leading the team in goals, assists and points (14-15-29).
Barry recorded points in all three of Michigan State’s games at Alaska, recording a goal and three helpers. He has nine points in his last nine games and led the Spartans in scoring in their series at Miami when he finished with one marker and an assist.
The Spartans are tied for the most games played in the conference with 39, yet no other MSU player has more than 20 points.
Sophomore forward Brent Darnell has 10 goals and 10 assists, and sophomore forward Tanner Sorenson and junior forward Greg Wolfe have 19 points each. Wolfe is second on the team in scoring with 13 goals, and Sorenson has three goals in his last five games.
Freshman forward Matt DeBlouw and junior forward Lee Reimer are Michigan State’s other two significant offensive threats. DeBlouw, a Calgary Flames draftee, has seven goals and 11 assists, and junior forward Lee Reimer is at 4-13-17.
Junior R.J. Boyd, who was selected by the Florida Panthers, leads the Spartans in defenseman points with 11, including two goals.
Junior Jake Chelios, son of NHL Hall of Famer Chris Chelios, plays both defense and forward and has five goals and five assists. Freshman defenseman Travis Walsh also has 10 points – all on helpers.
Freshman John Draeger, who was drafted by the Minnesota Wild, has chipped in nine points from the blue line, including one goal.
Freshman Jake Hildebrand has logged about two-thirds of Michigan State’s minutes in net, and he stopped 27-of-30 shots in the clincher vs. Alaska last Sunday.
Hildebrand is 8-15-2 with a 2.33 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.
Junior Will Yanakeff in 5-8-1 with a 3.13 GAA and a save percentage of .901. He turned aside 34-of-35 shots in a win on Friday and gave up four goals on 35 shots on Saturday.
The Spartans’ special teams have been anything but this season. They are 10th in the conference on the power play (13.4 percent), eighth on the penalty kill (83.9) and ninth in special teams net (minus-7).
They have struggled the most in the second period, getting outscored, 41-22.
The RedHawks played MSU in this round last season in Oxford and outscored the Spartans, 10-1 in a series sweep.
Miami has lost just twice at home this season (12-2-3) and is 20-2-3 in its last 25 home games. MU enters the postseason having won 10 of 13 overall.
Freshman Riley Barber has been the hottest RedHawk offensively with six goals and 10 points in his last nine games.
Freshman Ryan McKay has played six of the last seven games in net for Miami, allowing eight goals in that span. He should get the nod on Friday after finishing the regular season with a video game-like 1.17 goals against average and a .957 save percentage.
Miami is unbeaten in its last seven games vs. MSU (6-0-1), and has not lost to Michigan State since Nov. 21, 2011.