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Posted on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 5:45 a.m.

Bragging rights (and last place) on the line when Michigan and Michigan State hockey teams meet this weekend

By Pete Cunningham

kevin-lynch-msu.com.jpg

Michigan forward Kevin Lynch, pictured above, has eight points in the Wolverines' last eight meetings with Michigan State.

Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com file photo

The Michigan State and Michigan hockey teams have seen better days. The Wolverines need to win their final eight games just to finish .500. While the Spartans have a little bit more leeway due to a late-season Michigan bye week, they are currently the only team below Michigan in the CCHA standings.

That’s right, when the bitter rivals meet this weekend, bragging rights won’t be the only thing on the line.

So will last place.

Despite the teams’ struggles, Michigan coach Red Berenson said his team will have no trouble getting amped up for this game.

“(The emotion of the series) it’s always going to be there,” Berenson said. “When you play that team it brings out the best or worst in both teams. …They’ll notice the color on the sweater across from them.”

The last time the teams met, Michigan was able to come from behind in the third period of the third-place game of the Great Lakes Invitational. Since that late December meeting, the teams have won just three games between them in 14 contests and have both lost to the U.S. Development Program Under-18 in exhibition games.

“It was our best third period in recent memory, but that’s the GLI, we’ve played seven league games since then, so I think we’re a different team since then and so are we,” Berenson said.

Forward Kevin Lynch affirmed that this is one series he’s never worried about his team being up for, especially his fellow seniors.

“Seniors, it’s our last two games playing Michigan State, so I don’t think it means any less (that the teams are struggling),” Lynch said. “Obviously we’re two teams at the bottom of the standings, but we’re two teams trying to play for pride here and play for the name on the front of our sweater, so it’s a huge weekend for both of our teams.”

Historically, Lynch has played his best hockey against the Spartans. He has eight points (6 goals, two assists) in the teams’ last eight meetings dating back to December of last year.

“I’ve been pretty lucky in those games, playing well and hopefully that continues this weekend,” Lynch said.

A.J. Treais is the only Michigan player with more production against the Spartans than Lynch, with 12 points (7 goals, 5 assists) against them for his career. It’s the most points Treais has had against any other opponent in his Michigan career.

Throughout his career Treais has also played some of his best hockey at Joe Louis Arena and he’ll have the opportunity to do both this weekend. The series kicks off at Yost Ice Arena on Friday (6:35 p.m., Big Ten Network) and concludes Saturday (4:05 p.m., FSD) at the home of the Detroit Red Wings.

“My most memorable games at Michigan have been playing Michigan State. To make it even more special is playing at the Joe,” Treais said. “Growing up a Red Wings fan, I played my youth hockey there at the Joe and Michigan State games are really emotional.

“It’s kind of hard to control those emotions at first, but those are the funnest (sic) games to play in for me and a lot of the kids on this team.”

Pete Cunningham covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at petercunningham@annarbor.com. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.

Comments

PWJT8D

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

I find this weekend to be a tossup. It won't be a matter of which team plays better, but rather which team plays worse than the other. After this weekend series however, I predict Michigan to lose the remainder of their six games.

ThinkingOne

Fri, Feb 1, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

Even this season, I would never predict a UofM hockey team coached by Red Berenson to lose 6 games in a row...