Spartans Head to No. 5 Minnesota to Conclude the Regular Season
The Spartans will meet the Golden Gophers on Friday and Saturday.
|Games 33-34: Michigan State (7-22-3, 3-13-2-0 B1G) vs. No. 5 Minnesota (22-10-2, 13-5-0-0 B1G)|
|Dates | Times||Friday, March 10 – 7:30 p.m. ET | Saturday, March 11 – 8 p.m. ET|
|Location||Minneapolis, Minn. | Mariucci Arena (10,000)|
|TV||Fri. – ESPNEWS | Sat. – Fox Sports North Plus|
|Live Stats||Friday | Saturday|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live)|
|Radio (Mobile)||Broadcast available on Spartan Sports Network Mobile App: iPhone/iPad | Android|
|Game Notes||Michigan State | Minnesota | Big Ten|
|Social Media||@MSU_Hockey | Facebook | Instragram|
On The Fly…
• The Spartans wrap-up the regular season with a trip to fifth-ranked Minnesota this weekend.
• With four assists, including three in game two last weekend, Mason Appleton now leads the Spartans in goals (11), assists (18) and points (29) … Appleton has six points (1g, 5a) over the last five games.
• Seven of Appleton’s goals have come on the power play, which is tied for fourth in the Big Ten, and are the most by a Spartan since Torey Krug also had seven in 2011-12 … Appleton’s 18 power-play points are also fourth most in the Big Ten.
• Appleton’s linemate all season, freshman Taro Hirose, ranks second on the team in assists (17) and points (23) … Hirose has points in nine of the last 13 games in which he has appeared with a 3-9--12 scoring line over the span … He hasn’t gone consecutive games without a point since Jan. 6-7.
• Hirose’s 23 points rank sixth among all Big Ten freshmen and surpass the total of last year’s top producing Spartan rookie – Appleton.
• Freshman Sam Saliba had three goals last weekend to push his season total to nine, which is good for second on the team … Eight of Saliba’s goals have come in Big Ten play, which leads MSU … Saliba is tied for third on the team with 16 points (9g, 7a).
• Three of the Spartans’ top-four point producers are rookies – Hirose (6-17--23), Saliba (9-7--16) and Patrick Khodorenko (7-9--16).
• Senior defenseman Rhett Holland, who entered the year with 11 points (1g, 10a) in 106-career games, has six points (3g, 3a) over the last nine games, including a career-best four game point streak from Feb. 18 – March 3 (1-3--4).
• Holland’s defensive partner, Carson Gatt, is also having his most productive year offensively with 11 points (3g, 8a) … Gatt had two assists in the 5-3 loss at OSU last weekend and has four assists over the last five games.
• Michigan State has had at least seven freshmen in the lineup in all 32 games … Eight MSU rookies have accounted for nearly 40% of the team’s points so far this season.
The Golden Gophers are currently fifth in the PairWise Rankings and lead the Big Ten race by three points with two games to go … Minnesota is fourth nationally in goals (131), goals per game (3.85) and power play percentage (25.9%) … Minnesota is coming off a split at Michigan last weekend (L, 5-3; W, 4-1) and is 3-2 in its last five games … Sophomore Tyler Sheehy leads the Big Ten with 52 points (20g, 32a) … Seven Gophers have at least 25 points, including the team’s top-scoring defenseman, Jake Bischoff (4-25--29) … Sophomore goaltender Eric Schierhorn has started every game, posting a 2.73 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.
Spartans vs. Minnesota
Senior Villiam Haag has been at his best against Minnesota throughout his career as he has a 6-3--9 scoring line in 14 games against the Gophers. Joe Cox also has nine points (3g, 6a) in 14-career contests vs. Minnesota. Minnesota leads the all-time series, 112-45-15. MSU trails on the road as well, 58-16-7, though the Spartans were the first team to win a Big Ten game at Mariucci, doing so on Feb. 27, 2015.
Of Note From Last Weekend at Ohio State
With eight goals, the Spartans had their best weekend offensively since Feb. 10-11 vs. Michigan … The Spartans’ three power-play goals were their most in a two-game series this season … The Spartans’ four-goal first period on Friday was their first since Nov. 10, 2012 when they scored four in the opening stanza of a 7-2 win over Michigan … Ten of the Spartans 23 total points were produced by freshmen … John Lethemon (26, 21 saves) started both games of a weekend for the first time in his career.
Of Note From the Dec. 9-10 Series vs. Minnesota
Goaltender Ed Minney, who started both games, turned away a then career-high 40 stops in the opener … Joe Cox (2a) and Thomas Ebbing (1g, 1a) picked up points in both games to push their point streaks to a season-long five games.
Appleton Continues Production
Sophomore forward Mason Appleton has led the Spartans offensively all season and brings career-high totals in points (29), goals (11) and assists (18) into the final weekend of the regular season. He has seven multi-point games this year, including a career-high three assists Saturday vs. Ohio State.
The native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, plays in all situations, and eight (7 PP, 1 SH) of his 11 goals have come on special teams.
Hirose Delivers Offensive Consistency
Freshman Taro Hirose has been one of the Spartans’ most consistent offensive producers this season as he ranks second on the team in assists (17) and points (23). Hirose has points in nine of the last 13 games in which he has appeared (3-9--12).
He hasn’t gone consecutive games without a point since Jan. 6-7 and has only been held pointless in back-to-back games on four occasions this year.
Rookie Centers Doing Their Part
Freshmen centers Patrick Khodorenko and Sam Saliba have also provided the Spartans some offensive punch as both are tied for third on the team in points. Saliba has 11 points (8g, 3a) over the last 11 games, recording points in eight of those contests. He has 16 points (9g, 7a) this season.
Khodorenko has points in three consecutive games (1g, 2a) entering Friday, tying his season-long streak. He, too, has 16 points (7g, 9a) on the season.
D Chipping In
Spartan defensemen have upped their offensive production as of late, combining for 22 points over the last 10 games, which is nearly 28% of the team’s total points over the span. The 22 points since the beginning of February are six more than the defense corps combined to produce through the first 22 games of the season.
In The Big Ten
Mason Appleton leads the Spartans with 14 points (3g, 11a) in 18 league games … Sam Saliba’s eight goals in Big Ten games are tied for third most among freshmen in conference games … John Lethemon has a 3.13 goals-against average – 0.50 lower than his season average.
Lethemon Sees More Time in Net
After not seeing any action in the six games during January, freshman goaltender John Lethemon made four starts and appeared in six games in February. He started both games at Ohio State last weekend, marking the first time he has started back-to-back games on a weekend. He yielded three or fewer goals in five of his six appearances in February, including three starts, to post a league-best 2.80 goals-against average in the month.
He enters this weekend at Minnesota with a 3.63 goals-against average and .871 save percentage.
Lethemon and junior Ed Minney alternated starts over the first four games of the year before Minney started 15 of the next 17 games.
• The Spartans sported a penalty kill percentage of 81.1% during February, which ranked second in the league during the month … The Spartans were one of two teams (Wisconsin) with penalty kill percentages above 80% in February.
• The Spartans are 5-for-22 (22.7%) on the power play over the last six games.
• The Spartans’ five shorthanded goals (Hirose 2, Appleton, Ebbing, Cox) are their most since 2009-10 … The last time a Spartan team had more than five shorthanded goals in a year was 2002-03 when they had nine.
• Taro Hirose is the first Spartan since Lee Reimer in 2013-14 to have two shorties in a season.
• Mason Appleton’s 18 points (7g, 11a) on the power play are fourth most in the Big Ten.
• The power play converted in each of the last five games of January, going 5-for-19 (.263) over the span ... It was the first time the Spartans recorded a power-play goal in five straight contests since 2012.
• Villiam Haag is the Spartans’ active career leader in power-play goals with 12.
Stenglein Done For the Year
Head coach Tom Anastos announced Feb. 17 that senior JT Stenglein will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia. Stenglein ends his career with the Spartans having produced 30 points (14g, 16a) in 87 games. He had three goals in 15 games this season before being sidelined due to injury.
Closing in on 1500
Longtime MSU hockey athletic trainer Dave Carrier will work his 1,500th college hockey game when the Spartans open the Big Ten Tournament next week. Carrier is in his 33rd season at MSU and worked at Ferris State for five seasons prior to coming to East Lansing.
Carrier was inducted into the National Athletic Trainer’s Hall of Fame in June 2015 and received the Jim Fullerton Award from the America Hockey Coaches Association last year.
Spartans in the NHL
A total of nine Spartans have appeared in the NHL this season: Justin Abdelkader (Detroit Red Wings), Derek Grant (Buffalo Sabres), Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks), Torey Krug (Boston Bruins), Drew Miller (Detroit Red Wings), Ryan Miller (Vancouver Canucks), John-Michael Liles (Boston Bruins), Corey Tropp (Anahiem Ducks) and Jeff Petry (Montreal Canadiens).
The Spartans will head to Joe Louis Arena as the Big Ten Tournament will begin with the quarterfinals on Thursday, March 16.