After taking a 12 day break for finals week , the Northeastern Huskies are back on the ice this weekend for one last game to close out the first half of the year. NU will square off with the Big Ten’s perennial bottom feeder Michigan State Spartans on Sunday afternoon at Munn Ice Arena in a very, very chilly East Lansing, Michigan. (Seriously. I’m going to the game. The low currently as this was typed sits at -5 degrees. Somebody please send help.)
The Spartans are led by Tom Anastos, former commissioner of the CCHA and perhaps the most unpopular college hockey coach in the country. The name Anastos may sound familiar to Hockey East fans, as Tom’s daughter Andie is the senior captain of the Boston College women’s hockey squad. On the ice, the Spartans are just 4-8-1 on the season and just 2-6-0 at home. However, they picked up a road win at Ferris State in November, a 5-1 win over the US U18 team on December 4th, and had two wins AT North Dakota sandwiched in-between, so this Michigan State team isn’t one that’s going to roll over and give the Huskies an easy win either. Sophomore center Mason Appleton leads the Spartans in goals, assists, and points, with a 5-7-12 line, while senior captain Joe Cox has 8 points as a part of a logjam of players who are all in the 7-8 point range. Junior goaltender Ed Minney has been somewhere between below-average and bad, with a .899 save percentage exactly in line with his career mark and a 2.99 GAA. Both of those numbers, I may add, are significantly better than what the Huskies have gotten from Ryan Ruck.
For the Huskies, the keys to this game will be (wait for it) getting goals from the top six and getting good play on the back end. Shocker, I know. Adam Gaudette should be back in the lineup after missing the second BC game with a concussion sustained on Michael Kim’s game-winning hit/goal, as we’re now nearly three weeks removed from that game, but you never really know with concussions. Clay Witt returned to the ice after around this length of time two years ago, while Kevin Roy missed three full months for the Huskies last year. Sam Kurker was a shocking addition to the lineup last game, possibly returning on an accelerated timeline after Gaudette’s injury, and should anchor his normal wing in the lineup this weekend. We all know the Huskies’ top six will score, especially if Gaudette is back. Liam Pecararo will be joining the team after this game, and Nolan Stevens’ return is now on the horizon, so somehow, the best two lines in Hockey East are on the verge of getting even better. Now would be a great time for the Huskies’ third line of Filipe-Collier-Kurker (Note: Filipe may be in the top six depending on how the injury situation shakes out) to get in on the action and provide a spark on the third line, led by two senior leaders. If the Huskies’ role players can step up and start thriving in their roles and the back end can get it together, the Northeastern team we all hoped and dreamed of in September may show up just in time for another patented Husky Christmas Miracle.
Downie (8-4-2): 6-3 NU
Davis (7-5-2): 4-1 NU