Spartans Meet No. 16 Penn State in Final Home Series of the Season
MSU will honor its seniors prior to Saturday's game.
|Games 31-32: No. 16 Penn State (13-12-5, 6-9-5-2 B1G) vs. Michigan State (10-18-2, 4-14-2-1 B1G)|
|Dates | Times||Friday, Feb. 16 – 6:30 p.m. | Saturday, Feb. 17 – 5 p.m.|
|Location||East Lansing | Munn Ice Arena (6,114)|
|Video Stream||Friday – BTN2Go | Saturday – BTN2Go|
|Live Stats||Friday | Saturday|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live) | WJIM 1240-AM|
|Radio (Mobile)||Broadcast available on Spartan Sports Network Mobile App: iPhone/iPad | Android|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Penn State | Big Ten|
|Social Media||@MSU_Hockey | Facebook | Instragram|
On The Fly…
• Michigan State hosts No. 16 Penn State this weekend at Munn Ice Arena in its final home series of the season.
• Taro Hirose’s team-leading 33 points are tied for fourth in the Big Ten, while his 23 assists are tied for second most in the league … The 23 assists are the most by a Spartan since Derek Grant’s 25 in 2010-11, while the 33 points are the most since Torey Krug’s 34 in 2011-12.
• Hirose is one of three Spartans that brings a three-game point streak (1-2--3) into Friday’s game … He has points in nine of the last 13 games.
• Patrick Khodorenko assisted on all three MSU goals last weekend and brings a three-game point streak (1-3--4) into the weekend … Khodorenko ranks third in the team with 25 points (10g, 15a) and has points in five of the last seven games.
• Carson Gatt also has a three-game point streak with four points (2g, 2a) over the span … His career-high 17 points (4g, 13a) rank sixth among Big Ten defensemen.
• Spartan defensemen have upped their production of late as at least one blueliner has recorded a point on 16 of the last 20 MSU goals over an eight-game span (since Jan. 12).
• Despite being held without a point over a season-high five games, freshman Mitchell Lewandowski remains tied atop the Big Ten in goals with 15 … With 28 points, Lewandowski leads all Big Ten rookies and ranks third among freshmen nationally.
• The Spartans’ KHL line of Khodorenko, Hirose and Lewandowski has accounted for 86 points (35g, 51a) – 43% of the team total.
• Freshman David Keefer has points in three of the last four games, including two goals and an assist.
• Freshman Tommy Apap ranks second in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in faceoff winning percentage at .586.
• Freshman Tommy Miller is tied for sixth in the country and is third in the Big Ten in blocked shots per game (2.2) and total blocks (66).
• The Spartan power play ranks fourth in the Big Ten and 25th nationally at 19.5% (22-for-113).
About Penn State
Coming off a bye weekend, Penn State stands in sixth place in the Big Ten with 25 points … In their last series, the Nittany Lions lost (5-3) and tied (2-2, SOL) Notre Dame at home, Feb. 2-3 … PSU is winless its last seven games (0-5-2-0) since Jan. 13 … PSU is 6-7-2 (.467) on the road this season … Penn State ranks second nationally in goals (109) and third in goals per game (3.63), but is 45th in goals against per game (3.17) … Junior Andrew Sturtz ranks second in the Big Ten in points (35) and is one of five players tied for second in assists (23) … Brandon Biro ranks second on the team in points (6-20--26), while Chase Berger is third (10-14--24) … Peyton Jones has started 27 of 30 games in goal, going 12-10-4 with a .902 save percentage and 3.04 goals-against average … Penn State leads the country in shots on goal per game at 40.73.
Against Penn State
Penn State leads the all-time series 10-6-4, while MSU leads in games played at Munn, 5-4-1 … Taro Hirose has goals in both previous games vs. Penn State this season and has six points (3g, 3a) in six-career games against the Nittany Lions … Patrick Khodorenko (3a) and Zach Osburn (2g, 1a) both have three points in their careers vs. PSU.
Thank You, Seniors
This weekend will mark the final home games for MSU’s three seniors – Carson Gatt, Ed Minney and Dylan Pavelek – and they’ll be recognized on the ice prior to Saturday’s game. Gatt, an assistant captain, is the Spartans’ most experienced player, having appeared in 127-career games – 28 more than any other current Spartan. An honorable mention All-Big Ten performer a year ago, Gatt has a career-high 17 points this season.
Pavelek, who played for Danton Cole at the USNTDP, has been limited to seven games this season due to injury and has seen action in a total of 66 in his career. Minney, who also played for Cole at the NTDP, has played 35 games in goal in his four seasons.
KHL Line Thrives
The Spartans’ top line of Patrick Khodorenko, Taro Hirose and Mitchell Lewandowski has been excellent all season. The trio, which has been together since game one, has combined for 43% of the Spartans’ total points with 35 goals and 51 assists for 86 points. The trio is a part of the Spartans’ top power-play unit where they have combined for 35 points (13g, 22a) on the man-advantage.
Hirose and Khodorenko, who ranked second and third, respectively, on the team in points last season have helped Lewandowski flourish into one of the nation’s top freshmen. Lewandowski leads all Big Ten freshmen and ranks third among all rookies nationally in goals (15), and is third among freshmen in the nation in points (28).
Hirose’s 33 points are fourth in the Big Ten, and his 23 assists are tied for second in the league. His 15 (1g, 14a) power-play points rank second in the Big Ten.
Khodorenko, who was linemates in midget hockey with Lewandowski, ranks third on the team in points (25) and is second in goals (10). He has points in eight of the last 12 games (4-6--10) since Jan. 1.
Spartan D Corps Provides Offensive Punch
The young Spartan defense corps has combined for significant offensive contributions over the last eight games as at least one blueliner has recorded a point on 16 of the last 20 MSU goals. Carson Gatt (2-3--5), Tommy Miller (0-5--5), Zach Osburn (1-3--4), Jerad Rosburg (0-3--3) and Butrus Ghafari (2-0--2) have combined for 19 points over the stretch. Gatt has been the lone senior in the Spartans’ lineup for 23 games this season and leads all Spartan defensemen with a career-high 17 points (4g, 13a).
While the KHL line has provided over 40% of the team’s points this year, the Spartans have received increased production from up and down the lineup so far in the new calendar year. Sixteen of the Spartans’ 18 skaters have at least a point over the last six games. Outside the Spartans’ top three scorers, here’s how other Spartans have contributed over the last six games: Tommy Miller (0-5--5), Carson Gatt (2-2--4), Zach Osburn (1-3--4), Logan Lambdin (2-1--3), David Keefer (2-1--3) and Cody Milan (1-2--3).
MSU ranks 25th in the country and fourth in the Big Ten in power-play percentage at 19.5% (22-for-113) ... MSU has two players in the top six in the Big Ten in power play points - Taro Hirose leads in power-play assists (14) and is second in points (15), while Mitchell Lewandowski is tied for first in power-play goals (7) and sixth in points (12).
Apap Leads Spartans’ Young Centermen in the Dot
After missing six games with an injury, freshman center Tommy Apap returned to the lineup Jan. 12 at Wisconsin and picked up where he left off in the faceoff circle. The freshman leads all rookies ranks second in the Big Ten in faceoff winning percentage at .586 (212-150). Nationally, Apap ranks 12th overall and first among freshmen that have taken at least 100 draws. On a team with two sophomore and two freshmen centers, Michigan State ranks 25th nationally in faceoff winning percentage at .507.
More on One of the Nation’s Top Freshman Scorers
The Spartans are 7-4 when Mitchell Lewandowski scores and his 15 goals are the most by an MSU freshmen since Tim Crowder (17) in 2005-06, while his 28 points are the most by a MSU rookie since Derek Grant’s 30 in 2009-10. His seven multi-point games are second only to Taro Hirose on the team.
Lewandowski has recorded three, four-point weekends - earning Big Ten weekly honors after each. He was named the Big Ten’s Second Star of the Week and NCAA Third Star of the Week on Nov. 21 after his four-point (3g, 1a) weekend in a sweep of Ferris State. His other four-point weekends came vs. Western Michigan (3g, 1a) and Wisconsin (3g, 1a). Lewandowski’s game-winning goals have come vs. Western Michigan (Oct. 20), LSSU (Oct. 28) and Ferris State (Nov. 18).
Slater and Radunske Begin Play in Olympics
Jim Slater (MSU 2001-05) and Brock Radunske (MSU 2001-04) will both be taking part in this year’s Olympic Games. Slater’s spot on the US roster marks the fifth consecutive Olympiad in which Team USA will feature a former Spartan hockey player. Slater is currently playing for Fribourg-Gotteron HC in the Swiss National League. Radunske will be representing South Korea, where he has played professionally since 2008.
With Slater and Radunske, 18 former Spartan hockey players have now taken part in the Olympic Games. A Spartan hockey alum has participated in each Winter Olympics since 1984 – 10 consecutive Olympiads.
Lethemon Takes Over in Goal
Sophomore John Lethemon has shouldered the load in net for the Spartans as he has started 27 games and has been in goal for all 10 victories. The native of Northville has improved his save percentage by .034 and lowered his goals-against average by 0.87 over last season. He brings a .907 save percentage and 2.71 goals-against average into this weekend’s series.
His four shutouts are tied for tops in the Big Ten and are the most by a Spartan goaltender since Jake Hildebrand had six during his All-America season of 2014-15.
Young and Productive
With 19 underclassmen, including eight freshmen and 11 sophomores, the Spartans rank as the fourth-youngest team in the nation with an average age of 20 years, 335 days when the season began on Oct. 1. The Spartans have had just one senior skating in the lineup in 21 of the team’s 28 games. MSU’s 19 underclassmen are tied for the third-most freshmen and sophomores in college hockey.
Freshman Mitchell Lewandowski leads all rookies in points with 28 and as a whole, the freshman class has combined for 28% of the team’s total points this season.
MSU’s three seniors are tied for the fewest in the Big Ten and the fourth fewest in the nation. It’s the fewest seniors MSU has had since 2010-11 when it had two. Last season, MSU was the sixth-youngest team in the nation.
The Spartans have held leads pretty well so far this year, going 7-3 when leading after the first period and 8-0-1 when leading after two ... The Spartans are 10-5 when scoring first ... MSU is 5-3 when generating at least 30 shots on goal, last year MSU was 3-6 when doing so ... MSU is 8-4 when scoring at least three goals ... The Spartans have allowed two or fewer goals a total of 11 times this year, going 7-2-2 in such contests; MSU allowed two or fewer goals a total of eight times the entire 2016-17 season.
Spartans in the NHL
A total of seven Spartans are currently on National Hockey League rosters: Justin Abdelkader (Detroit Red Wings), David Booth (Detroit Red Wings), Derek Grant (Anaheim Ducks), Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks), Torey Krug (Boston Bruins), Ryan Miller (Anaheim Ducks), and Jeff Petry (Montreal Canadiens).
The Spartans will close the regular season next weekend at Notre Dame.