WHO: No. 15 Michigan State Spartans (19-13-4) at Miami RedHawks (21-13-2).
WHAT: CCHA Tournament, best-of-3 second round series.
WHERE: Cady Arena, Oxford, Ohio.
WHEN: Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary). Friday’s game is at 7:35 p.m., Saturday and Sunday’s games at 7:05 p.m.
MIAMI RADIO: All games—WMOH-AM (1450), Hamilton, Ohio; WKBV-AM (1490), Richmond, Ind.
MICHIGAN STATE RADIO: WJIM-AM (1240), East Lansing, Mich.
NOTES: It’s amazing that Miami has never won a single game against Michigan State in the CCHA Tournament.
The RedHawks enter Friday’s game with an 0-9 record against the Spartans in the postseason, but these teams haven’t met outside of CCHA regular-season play since 2006 and Miami has never hosted MSU in the playoffs.
Michigan State has not advanced to championship weekend in Detroit in five years, while Miami has gone three of the past four seasons, capturing its first-ever Mason Cup in 2011.
Since winning their third NCAA championship in 2007, the Spartans are 1-8 in the CCHA Tournament, and have not won a game since 2008.
So this weekend will end a futility streak for one team.
The Spartans won six of their final eight games of the regular season.
Despite being a defenseman, junior Torey Krug leads Michigan State in points (32) and is tied for the team high in goals (11) and assists (21).
Seniors Matt Crandell and Brock Shelgren are also solid blueliners for the Spartans, and have rolled up 15 and 13 points this season, respectively.
At forward, seven MSU players have contributed at least 15 points this season. Junior Lee Reimer is second on the team in points (9-21-30), and senior Brett Perlini is one point behind in second (9-20-29).
Sophomores Greg Wolfe and Matt Berry have added 10 goals each, junior Kevin Walrod has notched nine goals and nine assists and senior Mike Merrifield is tied for the team lead in goals with 11, and he has dished for six assists.
Junior Dean Chelios, son of NHL Hall of Famer Chris Chelios, has eight goals and seven assists, and his other brother, Jake, a sophomore, has played both forward and defense and has tallied two goals and seven assists.
Sophomore Will Yanakeff has logged just over half of Michigan State’s total minutes in net, going 13-7-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
Senior Drew Palmisano is 6-6-3, 2.59, .919.
Yanakeff has started seven of the Spartans’ last eight games, allowing 16 goals in that span and at least two goals in each start.
Palmisano allowed four goals on 29 shots in a 4-3 loss at Ferris State on Jan. 28, but he shut out Alaska on 27 shots Feb. 18.
Yanakeff stopped 57 of 61 shots (.934) in the Spartans’ split at Notre Dame to end the regular season.
So Yanakeff will probably get the start on Friday, but facing three games in three days, there’s a good chance Miami could face Palmisano at some point this weekend, and he could stick in net if Yanakeff struggles in the series opener.
Michigan State has the least penalty minutes of any team in the country, although Miami was shorthanded 13 times (and killed all of those chances) when the teams met in East Lansing in early January.
That series, in which Miami outscored the Spartans, 6-1 and senior goalie Connor Knapp stopped 53 of 54 shots (.981), propelled the RedHawks to a 12-4 second half after they went 9-9-2 prior to the new year.
For the second straight season, junior Reilly Smith is on fire for the RedHawks entering the postseason. Smith scored three goals and dished for two assists in the final regular season series of 2010-11 before racking up four goals and six assists in Miami’s five playoff games.
Smith has notched five goals and three assists in Miami’s last four games and six points in the team’s final series. His current four-game goal streak and span of six straight games with a point are both his longest of 2011-12.
Not surprisingly, Smith’s linemates also fared well at the end of the regular season. Freshman Jimmy Mullin recorded a goal and four assists in his last two games, and freshman Austin Czarnik scored twice and dished for two helpers in that span.
Smith has 14 goals and seven assists in the 16 games since Christmas Break, but senior goalie Connor Knapp’s number have been even more impressive.
Knapp is 10-2 with a 0.95 goals-against average and .961 save percentage in 2012, and he has not allowed a non-5-on-3 goal in over 280 minutes.
There’s a good chance Miami coach Enrico Blasi will bench both freshman Alex Wideman and sophomore Bryon Paulazzo for at least one game this weekend, although junior Curtis McKenzie has not scored in 16 games and has just four assists in that span, and senior Patrick Tiesling has one goal in his last 31 and the fourth liner is at best the seventh-best penalty killer on the team.
It does appear Blasi will go with junior Garrett Kennedy over freshman Ben Paulides at the sixth defense spot for the remainder of the season. Paulides has played well at times this season but Kennedy has been the safer