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Preview: Michigan vs. Michigan State

by Craig Peterson / Detroit Red Wings
Michigan forward Dylan Larkin is second in the country among freshmen for assists and points. A first-round draft pick of the Red Wings, Larkin will skate at The Joe for the first time in his collegiate career. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT — For the second time this season, the in-state rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State comes to a head at Joe Louis Arena on Friday night.

The high-powered Wolverines offense is set for a collision course with Spartans stingy defense in a rematch of the GLI championship. A win in Detroit would propel the winner towards a late push through the B1G conference schedule.

The Duel in the D will feature some of the B1G’s top talent, including Michigan freshman and Red Wings first-round pick in the 2014 NHL draft, Dylan Larkin who will make his debut at The Joe. The Wings prospect is second in the conference with 29 points in 20 games this season and has a six-game point streak coming into Friday’s game. The 18-year-old from Waterford, Mich., is one of the premier talents in the country and well on his way to a promising career ranked second among NCAA freshmen in assists and points.

Sitting atop the B1G standings, a win for Michigan would further exert its dominance over the conference. For the Spartans, a spirited win over a hated rival has the potential to propel Michigan State to a late push down the backstretch of the schedule.

Michigan will win if…

Larkin and the Wolverines’ offense can continue to produce. With five of the top 10 leading scorers in the B1G, Michigan’s offense is No. 1 in the nation averaging 4.36 goals per game. Winners of seven straight games, the Wolverines have reached the four-goal mark in five consecutive games. The last time they failed to reach that mark was against the Spartans in the GLI championship. While coach Red Berenson’s team came away with the win, Michigan was held to less than 30 shots in that game as scoring chances were few and far between.

Junior goalie Steve Racine was sensational in the holiday tournament, earning MVP honors while stopping 71-of-73 shots in two games but has struggled since then. In his four starts following the GLI, Racine has a 5.38 goals against average and .839 save percentage. Racine had been relieved of his duties in his last three starts, as sophomore Zach Nagelvoort took over goaltending responsibilites. Nagelvoort started in his first game since Dec. 13, pitching a 17-save shutout against Wisconsin on Saturday. A quandary in net might force Berenson to start whatever goalie has the hot hand as both have shown capabilities and struggles this season.

Michigan State will win if…

The Spartans start on time. Victims of sluggish starts this season, coach Tom Anastos’ team is just 1-10-0 when the opponent scores first. Coming off of the first series sweep of the season, Michigan State skated to a scoreless tie after the first period of both games. That means junior goalie Jake Hildebrand will need to be stellar to give his team a chance against rival Michigan. The Spartans have a commitment to defense, holding the opponent to two goals or less in 10 games including six of the last seven and Hildebrand has been a big part of that. The 5-foot-11 goaltender has a .918 save percentage and 2.41 goals against average, both tops in the B1G and has started 23 consecutive games.

While they held Michigan to just two goals in their last matchup, the Spartans failed to score until the four-minute mark of the third period of that game. Michigan State imposed a physical game plan on Michigan last time and it was successful in slowing down the Wolverines. But that was without Larkin, Tyler Motte, J.T. Compher and Zach Werenski in the lineup as the four were competing in the World Junior Championships. Michigan State will have to be sound in the defensive end and limit opportunities by blocking shots and staying out of the penalty box.

Olympia Entertainment has announced several special ticket offers for the upcoming “Duel in the D” between Michigan and Michigan State on Friday, Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena. The Big Ten rivalry game comes a month after the Wolverines claimed a 2-1 victory over the Spartans in the 50th Annual Great Lakes Invitational Championship Game on Dec. 29 in front of 17,776 college hockey fans at The Joe.

“College hockey in Detroit has continued to grow and we witnessed a tremendous atmosphere at The Joe for the GLI Championship Game between Michigan and Michigan State last month,” said Mike Bayoff, director of strategic hockey alliances for the Detroit Red Wings. “We’re pleased to offer several great ticket deals for college hockey fans, as two of the top college hockey programs get ready to square off in Hockeytown.”


FOX Sports Detroit “College Hockey Hat Packs” return for the “Duel in the D.” For $25, fans receive one upper level general admission ticket and a limited-edition Red Wings hat designed in the color scheme of their choosing – either Maize and Blue for Michigan or Green and White for Michigan State. A voucher will be included with the ticket providing instructions on redemption at Joe Louis Arena during the game on Friday, Jan. 30. FOX Sports Detroit “College Hockey Hat Packs” can be purchased online at


Fans can also witness the fiercest rivalry in college hockey by purchasing Little Caesars Family 4-Packs. The offer features four tickets to the “Duel in the D”, four slices of pizza or hot dogs and four soft drinks, starting at $44. Little Caesars Family 4-Packs can be purchased at the Joe Louis Arena Box Office (313-471-7575), all Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) outlets, and online at


Group rates for 10 or more tickets are available by calling the Red Wings ticket sales office at 313-471-7575. Additionally, special student rates are available for $12 per ticket by providing a valid student ID at the Joe Louis Arena Box Office on Friday, Jan. 30.

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