East Lansing, Mich. - Up to 19 games against 2012 NCAA Tournament teams (including six against Frozen Four participants) and 19 home dates are featured on the 2012-13 Michigan State hockey schedule, as announced by head coach Tom Anastos on Tuesday, June 19.
MSU's CCHA "cluster" opponents in the coming season, in addition to Big Ten foes Ohio State and Michigan, will be Notre Dame and Frozen Four runner-up Ferris State. MSU will have four games against those four opponents, and two against the other six CCHA squads.
The Spartan schedule will feature a Big Ten "feel" in its non-conference slate as well, as the Spartans officially open the season at Minnesota, which was a Frozen Four semifinalist last season. MSU will host the newest hockey member of the Big Ten, Penn State, as the Nittany Lions navigate their first official season in Division I hockey in advance of the official formation of the Big Ten hockey conference for the 2013-14 season.
With the Big Ten Hockey Conference on the horizon, the Spartans will take part in the "Celebrate the Legacy" initiative in the CCHA, which will honor the 40 years of the conference's successes, standout players, and championship teams in its final season of competition.
"Last season's schedule was one of the toughest in the nation, and we expect more of the same this year," said Anastos. "We're integrating Big Ten opponents, celebrating a long relationship with the CCHA and its member schools, and challenging ourselves with quality opponents. We're going to have a young team, and with so many newcomers, a lot of road games in October and November will have our team tested early."
MSU will kick off the season at Minnesota (Oct. 12-13) and host CHA entry Niagara as the squad's official home openers at Munn Ice Arena (Oct. 19-20). The conference slate begins with six of eight CCHA tilts on the road, beginning at Lake Superior State (Oct. 26-27), and continues with back-to-back home-and-home series with Bowling Green (Nov. 2-3) and Michigan (Nov. 9-10) before another road series at Miami (Nov. 16-17) the week before Thanksgiving. December opens with a home series - MSU's first of the conference season - against Ohio State (Nov. 30-Dec. 1), then a pair of games at Notre Dame (Dec. 7-8) and a single game against Ferris State (Dec. 15) to close out the pre-holiday portion of the schedule.
The Great Lakes Invitational has a bit of a new look in 2012, as it will be played outdoors at Comerica Park (Dec. 27-28) as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival, in conjunction with the NHL's Winter Classic, which will feature the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year's Day.
Another series with the Fighting Irish (Jan. 11-12) welcomes the Spartans to 2013, sandwiched between a standalone game at Ferris State on Jan. 5 and a home-and-home series with the Bulldogs on Jan. 18-19. MSU will skate in a midweek exhibition on Jan. 22 as the Spartan's renew their competition against US National Team Development Program before the Penn State series, which gives the Nittany Lions their first look at Munn Ice Arena (Jan. 25-26).
The stretch run of the CCHA session begins in the first days of February, as MSU's annual road-and-Joe series with Michigan is on tap. MSU will play five of its final eight games in the CCHA slate on its home ice, beginning with a home-and-home with Bowling Green (Feb. 8-9) before MSU's two-game home set against Northern Michigan (Feb. 15-16). A grueling road trip to Alaska is on the schedule for the penultimate series (Feb. 22-23), before celebrating the 2013 seniors in the final home series of the regular season, a two-gamer against Western Michigan on March 1-2.
The CCHA Tournament begins with first-round campus sites (March 8-10), and will once again follow the three-weekend format, capping with the CCHA Championship weekend in Detroit March 22-23.
Gametimes for all MSU home contests will be released once the television schedule has been finalized.