Spartans Begin Big Ten Tournament at Ohio State
The seventh-seeded Spartans will meet second-seeded OSU in a best-of-three series.
|B1G Tournament Quarterfinals (Best-of-Three): No. 7 seed Michigan State (12-20-2, 6-16-2-1 B1G) at No. 6/6 & No. 2 seed Ohio State (21-8-5, 14-8-2-1 B1G)|
|Dates | Times||Friday, March 2 -- 7 p.m. | Saturday, March 3 -- 7 p.m. | Sunday, March 4 -- 7 p.m. (If Nec.)|
|Location||Columbus, Ohio | Value City Arena (17,500)|
|B1G Tournament Central||BigTen.org|
|Video Stream||BTN Plus on BTN2Go|
|Live Stats||Friday | Saturday | Sunday|
|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 | Ohio State | Big Ten|
|Social Media||@MSU_Hockey | Facebook | Instragram|
On The Fly...
For the fourth time in five seasons, Michigan State will meet Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament ... The best-of-three series will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and, if necessary, Sunday
The Spartans defeated Ohio State, 6-3, in their last meeting on Feb. 3 in Columbus ... MSU went 1-3 against OSU this season.
Michigan State went 2-2 in its last four games of the regular season and went 3-4-1 in February, with two losses coming by just a goal.
Sophomore Taro Hirose ranks second in the Big Ten in both points (40) and assists (28) ... His 28 assists are the most by a Spartan since Jim Slater (32) in 2004-05, while his 40 points are the most since Corey Tropp (42) in 2009-10.
Freshman Mitchell Lewandowski's 19 goals are tied for the most in the Big Ten and lead all freshmen nationally ... His 33 points are third among all freshmen in the country and are eight more than any other rookie in the conference.
Lewandowski is just the seventh freshman in MSU history -- and first since Rustyn Dolyny in 1997-98 -- to score at least 19 goals.
Sophomore Patrick Khodorenko ranks 11th in the Big Ten with 29 points (11g, 18a).
Both Hirose (3-7--10) and Khodorenko (2-6--8) have points in six of the last seven games.
The Spartans' KHL line of Khodorenko, Hirose and Lewandowski has accounted for 102 points (42g, 60a) -- 44% of the team total ... It's the most combined points by the team's top three scorers since 2007-08.
Michigan State has played 14 consecutive games against teams ranked in the USCHO top-20 poll.
The Spartans have had at least 30 shots on goal in each of the last five games and are averaging 34.2 shots per game over the span -- 7.6 above their season average.
The Spartans have scored at least a goal in the third period in each of the last five games, outscoring opponents by a combined margin of 8-3 in the final stanza.
Rookies have helped MSU surge over the last five games as freshmen have accounted for 34% of the team's points and 46% of the goals over the stretch.
Freshman Tommy Apap leads the Big Ten and is sixth nationally in faceoff winning percentage at .597.
A Spartan defenseman has scored or assisted on 24 of the last 33 Spartan goals.
About Ohio State
The Buckeyes are the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament after going 14-8-2-1 in league play and finishing with 45 points -- eight behind conference champ Notre Dame ... OSU is 3-1-1 in its last five games and is coming off a home sweep of Wisconsin (6-2, 4-0) to finish the regular season ... Tanner Laczynski leads the Buckeyes and is third in the Big Ten with 39 points (14g, 25a), while Mason Jobst is sixth in the league with 35 points (16g, 19a) ... Junior goaltender Sean Romeo ranks third in the Big Ten in save percentage (.928) and goals-against average (2.06) ... OSU is third nationally in goals-against per game at 2.06 ... The Buckeyes lead the nation in penalty kill percentage at 91.1 % (112-of-123) ... Two of the 11 power-play goals OSU has yielded all season have come vs. MSU.
Of Note From Last Weekend vs. Notre Dame
The Spartans got their second road victory over a top-5 team this season with a 4-3 win on Saturday ... The win was the first for MSU this season when its opponent scores first -- MSU rallied from deficits of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 ... The Spartans outshot the Irish both nights and averaged 37.0 shots per game in the series -- their second-highest average in a weekend series this season ... Defensemen Zach Osburn (2g) and Jerad Rosburg (1g, 2a) accounted for five points in the series.
KHL Line Continues Excellence
The Spartans' top line of Patrick Khodorenko, Taro Hirose and Mitchell Lewandowski has been tremendous all season. The trio, which has been together since game one, has combined for 44% of the Spartans' total points with 42 goals and 60 assists for 102 points. It's the most combined points by the MSU's top-three scorers since 2007-08 (Tim Kennedy, 20-23--43; Justin Abdelkader, 19-21--40; Bryan Lerg, 20-19--39).
The trio is a part of the Spartans' top power-play unit where they have combined for 41 points (15g, 26a) 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 is tied for the Big Ten lead in goals (19) and game-winning goals (5), while his 33 points are third-best among all rookies nationally.
Hirose's 40 points and 28 assists are both tied for second in the Big Ten.
Khodorenko, who was linemates in midget hockey with Lewandowski, ranks third on the team in points (29) and goals (11). He has points in 11 of the last 16 games (5-9--14) since Jan. 1.
Hirose's Breakout Season
With 40 points and 28 assists, sophomore Taro Hirose ranks second in the Big Ten in both categories. His season is one the best offensively in recent Spartan history as his 40 points are the most since Corey Tropp (42) in 2009-10 and his 28 assists are the most by an MSU player in 13 years -- since Jim Slater's 32 as a senior in 2004-05.
Hirose hasn't gone without a point in more than two consecutive games all season and has at least a point in more games -- 25 -- than any other player in the conference. He has 11 multi-point games, seven of which have come vs. Big Ten opponents, and has points in nine of the last 12 games (5-11--16).
He is tied for the Big Ten lead in power-play points with 17 and leads power-play assists with 16 -- five more than any other player.
Lewandowski in Elite Company
In tying for the league lead and topping all freshmen nationally with 19 goals, Mitchell Lewandowski has put himself in elite company alongside some of the best players in Spartan history. Lewandowski is one of just seven players in MSU history to score at least 19 goals as a freshman, joining Rod Brind'Amour (27), Joe Murphy (24), Kip Miller (22), Rustyn Dolyny (20), Anson Carter (19) and Lyle Phair (19).
Lewandowski's 33 points, which lead all Big Ten rookies and rank third among all freshmen nationally, are the most by a Spartan freshman since David Booth had 36 (17g, 19a) in 2002-03.
His five game-winning goals are tied for second in the country and have come against Western Michigan (Oct. 20), LSSU (Oct. 28), Ferris State (Nov. 18), Wisconsin (Jan. 12) and Penn State (Feb. 16). The Spartans are 9-4 when Lewandowski scores and his nine multi-point games are second only to Taro Hirose on the team.
Of Note Against the Buckeyes
MSU leads the all-time series, 90-41-12 ... MSU is 6-4 vs. OSU in all-time postseason matchups, but 0-3 in the Big Ten Tournament ... The Spartans and Buckeyes have split each of the last four series they've played in Columbus, dating back to Nov. 2014 ... Sam Saliba is the Spartans' active leading scorer against the Buckeyes with nine points (7g, 2a) in nine career games vs. OSU ... MSU is 4-5-1-1 in its last 10 games against OSU at Value City Arena.
Over the Last Five Games, the Spartans...
Are averaging 3.0 goals per game (+0.47 over season average)
Have outscored opponents by a combined margin of 8-3 in the third period
Have at least 30 shots on goal in each game, including three of their four highest single-game totals
MSU is averaging 34.2 shots on goal (+7.6 over season average)
While the KHL line has provided over 40% of the team's points this year, the Spartans got production from up and down the lineup during February as 18 skaters had at least a point during the month. Outside the Spartans' top three scorers (Hirose, Lewandowski, Khodorenko), here's how other Spartans have contributed during February (eight games): Carson Gatt (2-4--6), Zach Osburn (3-1--4), David Keefer (2-2--4), Tommy Miller (0-4--4), Logan Lambdin (2-1--3), Jerad Rosburg (1-2--3) and Cody Milan (0-3--3).
Spartan D Corps Upping Offense
The young Spartan defense corps has combined for significant offensive contributions over the second half of the season. Since Jan. 1, Spartan defensemen have contributed 30% of the team's total points. Additionally, 35 of the 52 total points recorded by Spartan blueliners this season have come since Jan. 1.
At least one blueliner has recorded a point on 24 of the last 33 MSU goals. Carson Gatt has been the lone senior in the Spartans' lineup for 27 games this season and leads all Spartan defensemen with a career-high 19 points (4g, 15a). Jerad Rosburg is second among MSU blueliners with 11 points (1g, 10a), while rookie Tommy Miller is third (10a).
MSU ranks 29th in the country and fourth in the Big Ten in power-play percentage at 18.9% (24-for-127) ... MSU has two players in the top four in the Big Ten in power play points - Taro Hirose is tied for the lead in power-play points (17), while Lewandowski is tied for fourth (14) ... Hirose leads the conference in power-play assists (16) and Lewandowski leads in power-play goals (8).
Apap Leads Spartans' Young Centermen in the Dot
Not only has Tommy Apap been the Spartans' best center in the faceoff circle, but he's also leading the Big Ten with a .597 winning percentage. Nationally, Apap ranks sixth 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 21st nationally in faceoff winning percentage at .512.
Lethemon Takes The Lead in Goal
Sophomore John Lethemon has shouldered the load in net for the Spartans as he has started 30 games and has been in goal for all 12 victories. The native of Northville has improved his save percentage by .031 and lowered his goals-against average by 0.79 over last season. He brings a .904 save percentage and 2.79 goals-against average into this weekend's series. Lethemon's 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.
The Spartans have held leads well this year, going 8-3 when leading after the first period and 9-0-1 when leading after two ... The Spartans are 11-5 when scoring first ... MSU is 7-5 when generating at least 30 shots on goal ... MSU is 10-5 when scoring at least three goals ... The Spartans have allowed two or fewer goals a total of 12 times this year, going 8-2-2 in such contests; MSU allowed two or fewer goals a total of eight times the entire 2016-17 season.
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 27 of the team's 34 games. MSU's 19 underclassmen are tied for the third-most freshmen and sophomores in college hockey.
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.
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).