Thursday, July 19, 2007

National champs unveil '07-08 schedule

Twenty home games and 11 contests against NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago are the highlights of Michigan State 's 37-game schedule for 2007-08. The defending National Champions will take on teams from four of the six Division I hockey conferences, including three perennial powers in the WCHA.

The Spartans' CCHA cluster in the CCHA schedule will include Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State in addition to rivalry partner Michigan . MSU went 4-0 against NMU and Lake State in 2006-07, and was 2-3-1 in the six meetings with the Wolverines (1-2-1 in games which counted in the CCHA standings).

"We are very happy our schedule - we have quality non-conference games, and we expect it to be another very competitive year within the CCHA," noted Spartan head coach Rick Comley. "We'll have Michigan in our building twice this year, and the College Hockey Showcase games against Minnesota and Wisconsin as well. It's a Big Ten flavor, and something I think our fans will be happy to see.

"We'll play three teams from the WCHA - in addition to the Big Ten teams, we'll travel and play North Dakota , which has been in the Frozen Four the last three seasons. I think the games between the WCHA and CCHA are significant games that are good for our players - as coaches, it serves as a great gauge of where you are as a team."

Fans will get a first look at the Spartans on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 7, at the annual Green & White game. A Tuesday-evening exhibition against the University of Windsor follows on Oct. 9 as a final tuneup before the regular season begins.

Michigan State tangles with North Dakota in Grand Forks on Saturday, Oct. 13 in the US Hockey Hall of Fame Game. The 2006-07 National Championship squad will be honored the following weekend during a two-game home series with ECAC-member Colgate (Oct. 19-20), which serves as the official home opener as well. A home set with Northern Michigan will close out the season's opening month, as the Wildcats come to Munn on Oct. 26-27.

November opens with a trip to the CCHA's furthest outpost - Fairbanks , Alaska - for a series with the Nanooks on Nov. 2-3. Three straight home weekends follow - a pair of two-game series' against Atlantic Hockey member Mercyhurst (Nov. 9-10), and Miami (Nov. 15-16). The set against Miami is a Thursday-Friday pairing.

An annual gem on the Spartan schedule is the College Hockey Showcase - MSU's yearly meetings with Big Ten rivals Minnesota (Nov. 23) and Wisconsin (Nov. 24) the weekend after Thanksgiving. The showcase wraps up a stretch of 10 of MSU's first 13 games in the friendly confines of Munn Arena.

November ends - and December begins - with a series at Lake Superior State (Nov. 30-Dec. 1) The squad will play a home-and-home with Ferris State on Dec. 7-8 which will serve as the final pre-holiday action for the team.

The 43rd annual Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit (Dec. 28-29) pits MSU against Michigan Tech in the first round. The Spartans, the defending champions and 11-time titlists, will look to move on to the championship game against either Michigan or Providence.

Three straight home games are on the docket to start January - a two-game set with clustermate Lake Superior on Jan. 4-5 and the front-end of a home-and-home with defending CCHA regular and tournament champion Notre Dame (Jan. 11). The game in South Bend on Jan. 12 is the first of four straight on the road for Michigan State, continuing with a series in Columbus against Ohio State (Jan. 18-19) and the only game of the season in Ann Arbor against archrival Michigan on Jan. 25. The Wolverines play the first of two games against the Spartans in East Lansing on Jan. 26 to close out the month's action.

Ten games in the regular-season's final 30 days will well-prepare the Spartans for the postseason. Nebraska-Omaha comes to town for a set (Feb. 1-2) to open the slate, followed by a pair at Northern Michigan (Feb. 8-9). The final six games will be contested as home-and-away series, with home games in the Friday night matchups. The first comes against Western Michigan on Feb. 15-16; Michigan follows at Munn on Feb. 22, with the annual game at Joe Louis Arena the following evening (Feb. 23). The regular season concludes with a series against Bowling Green (Feb. 29-March 1).

The CCHA Tournament begins with first-round games March 7-9 on campus sites, with the quarterfinal round being contested the following weekend (March 14-16), also on campus. These first two rounds are best-of-three series. The CCHA Championship weekend will be March 21-22 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit .

The selection show for the 2008 NCAA Tournament will be held on March 23, with the regionals beginning on Friday, March 28. Games in Albany, N.Y. and Colorado Springs, Colo. will be held on March 28-29, while the regionals in Worcester, Mass. , and Madison, Wis. will be March 29-30. The Frozen Four will be contested April 10-12 in Denver, Colo. at the Pepsi Arena. Denver University will serve as host.

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