Michigan State hockey opens Big Ten play at Ohio State this weekend, the first Conference games for both teams. The teams will face each other at 6 p.m. Friday and play a matinee at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
Both games will have a live webstream this weekend on B1G+, the streaming system of the Big Ten Network.
Scott Moore and Rob Woodward call the action on the Spartan Media Network. The game will be broadcast live on WJIM 1240 AM (Friday) and WVFN 730 AM (Saturday) in the Lansing region, as well as on the web at MSUSpartans.com.
Steve Rohlik is in his ninth season behind the Buckeye bench and his squad was inactive last weekend after a 3-1 start to the season, including a split at Bentley and a UConn win in the first two weekends of the season.
MSU holds an all-time 93-51-13 record against Ohio State, including a 41-26-6 mark in games played in Columbus. The teams split their two series last season and even split the weekend into each of the two matchups. MSU took a 3-2 OT win at Value City Arena, but dropped the second game 4-2, and Ohio State won the first night in East Lansing (5-1) before the Spartans shut out the Buckeyes in the second game (2-0).
MSU ahead Jagger Joshua’s brother, Dakota, was a four-year letter winner for the Buckeyes graduating in 2019. He is in his second season with the St. Louis Blues organization and is currently with the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL).
The Spartans traveled east last weekend, ending up in a 2-2 draw and suffering a 4-0 loss at UMass Lowell.
Saturday’s loss broke a four-game undefeated run for MSU, which lost to Air Force (3-2) in overtime on the opening night of the season. The Spartans allowed a power play goal and a shorthanded stand in the 4-0 defeat.
The Spartans had killed 14 penalties in a row in the previous four games before handing in an extra man in the first period of Saturday’s game against Lowell. UML finished 1-for-5 on the power play and 1-for-10 in the series that evening with a man advantage.
MSU owns a .905 penalty kill percentage, knocking out 19 of 21 chances against. The Spartans are fourth in the Big Ten and 13th nationally in the PK.
The Spartans scored their fifth power play score of the season at Lowell on Friday, matching the team’s 2020-21 performance with a man advantage. MSU is currently 5-for-21 (.238) in the PP, good for third in the Big Ten and 17th nationally.
MSU has collected 29 penalties over 80 minutes, averaging 13.33 per game. The Spartans are fourth in the Big Ten and 16th in Division I in penalty minutes per game.
The Spartans have scored first in four of their six games and have a 2-1-1 record in those games.
MSU’s newcomers have contributed significantly to the team’s attack, with half of the team’s goals (7) and points (14) so far this season.
Michigan State is coming off a 7-18-2 record in the 2020-21 Covid-19 shortened season, in which the Spartans only played a Big Ten (plus Arizona State) schedule. MSU finished seventh in the Big Ten.
After playing just four non-conference games in 2020-21 (all against ASU), the Spartans have 10 scheduled for the 2021-22 season. MSU played two-game sets at home against Air Force and Miami, as well as a pair on the road at UMass-Lowell last weekend. Another home-and-home game is in the pipeline with Ferris State and the two Great Lakes Invitational games against Western Michigan and Michigan Tech.
Michigan State returns 19 letter winners for the 2021-22 campaign and welcomes seven new players. Of the newcomers, four come in with previous college hockey experience, and three are actual freshmen.
Of the 15 attackers from MSU on the roster, they will return to Green & White from 2020-21. With the support of some transfers, MSU’s forward corps has a combined 678 college hockey games under its belt. Seven defenders return with 346 games played (all at MSU), and the three goalkeepers have a total of 52 games played.
MSU’s four newcomers with previous experience (Chris Berger, Jeremy Davidson, Griffin Loughran, and Erik Middendorf) bring 222 man games to the Spartan lineup, and a combined score of 54-62-116. All have at least two seasons remaining to qualify.
PLAYER COMMENTS – FORWARD
Jeremy Davidson scored a goal in Friday’s game against UMass-Lowell, his best five-game points run of his career was broken with the shutout of the Spartan attack on Saturday.
With a score of 4-2–6, Davidson has his career best in goals and points, and this season he took his career high with two assists. He played collegiately with UMass for one season (2019-20) and had a goal and two assists in 22 games, before returning to the USHL to play for the Fargo Force in 2020-21.
Davidson is ninth in the Big Ten in points (9), third in goals (4), and second with two power play marks. He is 12th in the Big Ten in points per game (1.00).
Mitchell Lewandowski leads MSU by seven points (3g, 4a), which is fourth in the Big Ten. He assisted once in last Friday’s game against UMass-Lowell, the 140th consecutive game he played in his collegiate career, the most of all active players in Division I hockey. That ironman streak was cut short when he missed Saturday’s game.
Lewandowski is ninth in the B1G in goals (3), fifth in assists (4) and fifth in plus/minus (+5). His 1.40 points per game is fourth in the Big Ten.
Lewandowski has the second highest point total of active NCAA skaters with 107. He also ranks fifth in power play goals (18) and tied for first place in game winners (10).
Griffin Loughran ranks third on the team in points (5) and recorded an assist at UMass-Lowell last weekend to bring his season tally to three.
Loughran and Davidson each have two power play strikes – tied for 16th in the national standings (second in the B1G) in that category.
Loughran is the highest-scoring transfer to join the Spartan line-up this season. He scored 72 points (35 goals, 37 assists) in three years at NMU.
Josh Nodler scored the opening goal of the 2021-22 season for MSU, and with a score of 1-3-4, he is second in helpers and tied for fourth with four points on the year.
Nodler’s 55 face-offs rank seventh in the Big Ten, and he won 57% of his face-offs in the season (55-42). In the Big Ten, his 55 faceoff wins rank seventh.
With an assist last weekend, Kristof Pappa equalized his offensive output in the first season with four assists in the season, finishing 12th in the Big Ten.
Papp has taken 107 face-offs in the season (the most on the team) and is in first place with a 0.589 pass rate. Among B1G centermen, his 63 face-offs took second place.
Erik Middendorf had an assist in last Friday’s game at UMass-Lowell, and has a 1-2-3 scoring line. Him, Nodler and freshmen Tanner Kelly are the three regular Spartan forwards with no penalty this season to six games.
Middendorf played two seasons with Colorado College before returning to junior hockey for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, where he won a Clark Cup with the Chicago Steel (USHL). He came to MSU with seven goals and 13 points in 47 games at CC.
Middendorf played in the USNTDP before moving to CC where he played Danton Cole in 2016-17 for the U-17 team.
Senior Adam Goodsir appeared on Friday in his 100th game of his career with UMass-Lowell.
PLAYER COMMENTS – DEFENDERS
David Gucciardi scored his first goal of his career at UMass-Lowell on Friday.
Gucciardi is the only freshman on the Spartan Blue Line and he is coming to East Lansing after two seasons with Waterloo (USHL). He has played in all six matches with Christian Krygier as his D partner. He has 12 blocked shots, which is second in the team.
Christian Krygier appeared in his 100th career games at UMass-Lowell on Saturday, and twin brother Cole has played 93. Cole leads the Big Ten in penalty minutes (19), while Christian is team leader in penalties (6).
Dennis Cesana is the team’s top scoring blueliner (1-2–3) and is third on the team in blocked shots (10).
Cesana has been one of the Big Ten’s top-producing defenders for the past three seasons. The two-time All-Big Ten roster has 61 points (13g, 48a) in 105 career games for Green and White. He earned the preseason Honorable Mention All-Big Ten this fall.
Nash Nienhuis had his second career multi-point game with a pair of assists in the second game against Air Force. He is a +2 overall in the season skating in the top pair with Cesana.
Powell Connor leads the Big Ten with 15 blocked shots and had four in the Lowell series last weekend. He played in all six games this season.
PLAYER COMMENTS – GOALKEEPERS
MSU split its weekend between its two goalkeepers for the third straight week.
Last Friday, DeRidder made the best 37 saves of the season in MSU’s 2-2 tie, and was named the first star of the game. He earned the Big Ten Second Star of the Week award on Monday, MSU’s second selection in a row.
Senior Drew DeRidder has three of the top four single-game save achievements in the Big Ten this season. His 37 at Lowell ranks first, his 36 vs. Air Force in the season opener is tied for second place and he made 35 stops against Miami (10/16), which is in fourth place.
DeRidder is second in the Big Ten and sixth nationally with a .947 save rate, while fifth in the B1G with a 1.92 GAA (16th among Division I goals). He is also third in the B1G in saves per game (21.60)
DeRidder was named MVP of the Spartans last season and winner of the most improved player award. The resident of Fenton recorded a mark-up percentage of 2.76 GAA and a mark-up percentage of 0.923. DeRidder led the Big Ten in total with 723 saves and saves per game at 30.12.
sophomore Pierce Charleson got the kink in Saturday’s game, making 27 saves in a heavy 4-0 setback. He is fifth in the Big Ten with a 2.01 GAA and fourth in save percentage (0.933).
Charleson made three starts and last season played in seven games for Michigan State in the range. He put together a 2.57 GAA and a 0.938 serve in those games, making 210 saves in 326:49.
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