Spartans Start B1G Play at No. 5 Minnesota
The Spartans begin Big Ten play at 4-2.
|Games 7-8: Michigan State (4-2, 0-0 B1G) vs. No. 5/4 Minnesota (5-3, 1-1 B1G)|
|Dates | Times||Friday, Nov. 3 - 8 p.m. ET | Saturday, Nov. 4 - 5 p.m. ET|
|Location||Minneapolis, Minn. | 3M Arena at Mariucci (10,000)|
|TV||Friday -- Fox Sports Detroit Plus | Saturday -- Fox Sports North|
|Live Stats||Friday | Saturday|
|Radio||Spartan Sports Network (Listen Live) | WJIM 1240-AM (Fri.), WVFN 730-AM (Sat.)|
|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...
After going 4-2 in the opening month of the season, the Spartans head to No. 5/4 Minnesota to begin Big Ten play ... This weekend's series marks the earliest the Spartans have opened Big Ten play since the league's formation in 2013-14.
Michigan State is coming off a sweep of Lake Superior State, improving to 4-2 on the year -- the Spartans' best start since 2009 when they also went 4-2.
The Spartans' 10 total goals against LSSU were their most in a two-game series since their last home sweep -- Nov. 6-7, 2015 vs. New Hampshire (5-0, 7-4).
The Spartans rank 12th in the nation in goals per game at 3.5.
Fifteen different players recorded a point last weekend, including nine that had multiple points.
The Spartans are 21st nationally in shots on goal per game at 31.33 ... MSU has recorded at least 34 shots on goal in four of six games - all victories.
Freshman Mitchell Lewandowski (3g, 6a) and sophomore Taro Hirose (2g, 7a) are tied for the team lead with nine points apiece ... Lewandowski's nine points are tied for the national lead among freshmen and are the most of any rookie in the Big Ten.
Hirose has at least a point in all six games this year -- a career-best streak ... Hirose's point streak is the longest by a Spartan since Mackenzie MacEachern's eight-game streak in 2016 ... Hirose is the first Spartan to have points in the first six games of the season since Derek Grant in 2009.
Lewandowski and Hirose's linemate, Patrick Khodorenko, leads the Spartans in goals with four ... The trio has accounted for 43% of the Spartans' total points.
John Lethemon recorded his first career shutout on Saturday ... In starting each of the last five games, Lethemon has a 2.07 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.
Junior Cody Milan has tied his career high already with seven points (1g, 6a) ... Milan has points in five of six games this year and had three assists last weekend vs. LSSU.
MSU ranks 17th in the nation in power play percentage at 25.8% ... The Spartans' have a power-play goal in five of six games and are 8-for-31 on the year.
Freshman Tommy Apap ranks second in the Big Ten and 16th nationally in faceoff winning percentage at .645 (60-33).
Minnesota is coming off a sweep of No. 9 Clarkson (3-1, 2-1) ... All eight of the Gophers' games have been against ranked opponents ... Minnesota has won four of its last five ... Sophomore Rem Pitlick leads Minnesota in points with eight (3g, 5a) ... Pitlick is one of two players with three goals (Brannon McManus) ... Eric Schierhorn has played every minute in goal and owns a 2.13 goals against average and .923 save percentage ... Minnesota ranks 10th nationally in goals-against per game at 2.12.
Of Note From the LSSU Series
MSU recorded its first sweep since February 2016 at Wisconsin and its first home sweep since Nov. 2015 vs. New Hampshire ... The Spartans held LSSU to 22 and 15 shots on goal, respectively, the two lowest totals for any MSU opponent this year ... Jake Smith (2g), David Keefer (1g) and Mitch Eliot (1g, 1a) recorded their first collegiate goals, while Tommy Miller (2a) and Gino Esteves (1a) earned their first career points ... The Spartans' three power-play goals in the 6-0 win were their most since March 17, 2016 vs. Ohio State.
KHL Line on the Offensive
The line of Patrick Khodorenko, Taro Hirose and Mitchell Lewandowski has been the Spartans' most productive so far this season, accounting for 43% of the team's total points.
Hirose (2-7-9) has at least a point in every game, becoming the first Spartan to have a point in his first six since 2009. He has three multi-point games so far this season and leads MSU with a total of nine through 40 career games.
Dating back to last season, Khodorenko has points in nine of his last 12 games. He leads the Spartans with four goals. His midget hockey linemate, Lewandowski (3-6-9), was named the Big Ten First Star of the Week on Oct. 24 after a four-point performance that included the game-winning goal in a 6-4 victory over Western Michigan.
The trio is a part of the Spartans' top power-play unit where they have combined for 13 points (5g, 8a) on the man-advantage.
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 as of Oct. 1. The Spartans have had just one senior skating in the lineup in half of the team's games. MSU's 19 underclassmen are tied for the third-most freshmen and sophomores in college hockey.
While freshman Mitchell Lewandowski is tied for the team lead in points with nine, a handful of other rookies broke through with their first career points last weekend vs. LSSU. Jake Smith scored a goal in each game and David Keefer picked up a power-play goal in the 6-0 win. Defenseman Tommy Miller picked up his first career points with assists in both games and leads MSU in plus/minus at plus-5. As a whole, the freshman class has combined for 27% of the team's points.
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 Spartan power play is off to a strong start, going 8-for-31, as their 25.8% conversion rate ranks 17th nationally ... The Spartans didn't record their eighth power-play goal last season until game No. 10 ... Taro Hirose is tied for second in the nation in power-play points with six ... Hirose and Patrick Khodorenko both have two power-play goals ... MSU has killed 11 of the last 13 opponent power plays (84.6%) over the last three games, including all four the last time out against LSSU, which entered the game with a 37.5% power play percentage ... The Spartans haven't allowed a power-play goal in the second period this season, extinguishing all nine opponent opportunities.
Like the Old Days at Munn
Upon being hired, one of the first program goals cited by head coach Danton Cole was an emphasis on winning at home and making Munn a tough environment for opposing teams. So far so good for the Spartans as they are off to their best start at Munn -- 4-0 -- since 2009 (also 4-0). MSU has outscored opponents, 19-9, at Munn and are outshooting opponents by an average of 36.0-22.8. The Spartans got their first shutout at Munn in the series finale against Lake Superior State since March 5, 2016 vs. Minnesota (5-0).
The Golden Gophers lead the all-time series, 113-45-16. MSU is 1-3-1 with a shootout win in its last five games at 3M Arena at Mariucci.
The Spartans have been able to hold leads, going 4-0 when leading after one period and 2-0 when leading after two ... The Spartans have scored first and had at least three goals in all four wins ... MSU is 4-0 when generating at least 30 shots on goal, last year MSU was 3-6 when doing so.
Gatt a Senior CLASS Award Candidate Senior defenseman Carson Gatt is one of 20 NCAA hockey student-athletes nominated for the Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. The 20 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists in February, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot.
A New Era
Spartan alum and Lansing native Danton Cole is back home at the helm as the seventh head coach in Michigan State hockey history. The 18-year coaching veteran spent the last seven seasons with the USNTDP and is returning to the college ranks for the first time since 2010 when he capped a three-year stint as head coach of Alabama-Huntsville with a league title and trip to the NCAA Tournament.
As player from 1986-89, Cole was part of one of the most successful eras in program history as the Spartans posted a .738 winning percentage, won the 1986 National Championship, captured two CCHA tournament and regular-season titles and made three trips to the Frozen Four.
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 be home for three straight games -- their longest homestand of the year - beginning Nov. 10-11 vs. Wisconsin.