Home-and-Home Set With Michigan Begins Thursday in Ann Arbor
The Spartans and Wolverines will resume college hockey's most-played rivalry.
|Games 17-18: Michigan State (7-8-1, 1-6-1-1 B1G) vs. Michigan (6-6-2, 2-4-2-1 B1G)|
|Dates | Times||Thursday, Dec.7 – 7:30 p.m. | Friday, Dec. 8 – 7:05 p.m.|
|Location||Thursday – Ann Arbor | Yost Ice Arena (5,800)
Friday – East Lansing | Munn Ice Arena (6,114)
|Promotion||MET Toy Collection|
|Video Stream||Thursday | Friday|
|Live Stats||Thursday | Friday|
|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 | Michigan | Big Ten|
|Social Media||@MSU_Hockey | Facebook | Instragram|
On The Fly…
• Michigan State will play its final two Big Ten games of the calendar year this week, resuming the most-played rivalry in college hockey with a home-and-home series vs. Michigan.
• Michigan State and Michigan have met 314 times – six more than Denver and Colorado College, which is the next closest rivalry by games played.
• The Spartans went 2-1-2 against Michigan last season with both victories coming at Yost.
•The Spartans’ KHL line of Patrick Khodorenko, Taro Hirose and Mitchell Lewandowski has accounted for 49 points (19g, 30a) – 49% of the team total … At least one member of the KHL line has been involved in 13 of the Spartans’ last 16 goals.
• Mitchell Lewandowski continues to lead all freshmen nationally in points (18), points-per-game (1.12), and game-winning goals (3) ... Lewandowski leads all Big Ten rookies in goals (9).
• Michigan State has allowed two or fewer goals in five of its last seven games … The Spartans have allowed two or fewer goals a total of seven times this year, going 5-1-1 in such contests.
• Sophomore goaltender John Lethemon owns a .916 save percentage and 2.32 goals-against average, both of which rank third in the Big Ten … He has allowed two or fewer goals in eight of 14 starts.
• Sophomore Taro Hirose’s team season-high seven-game point streak came to an end on Saturday … Hirose had a 4-5-9 scoring line over the seven-game span.
• Hirose is tied for sixth in the Big Ten in assists (12) and points (18).
• Senior defenseman Carson Gatt leads all MSU blueliners with 10 points (2g, 8a) – two points shy of last year’s career high, which tied for the lead among Spartan defensemen … Gatt has six points (2g, 4a) over the last eight games.
• MSU has extinguished 14 of the last 16 opponent power plays (87.5%) over the last seven games.
• As the fourth-youngest team in college hockey, the Spartans have had just one senior skating in the lineup (defenseman Carson Gatt) in 12 of 16 games this season … The sophomore class has accounted for 44% of the Spartans’ total points, while the freshmen have produced 30%.
The Wolverines are coming off a 7-3 exhibition victory over the USNTDP U-18 team on Saturday … In its last Big Ten series, Nov. 24-25, Michigan was swept at home by Ohio State (3-2, 5-1) … U-M is 1-3-1-1 in its last five games with their last win coming at home on Nov. 10 against Minnesota (5-4 OT) … Junior Cooper Marody leads Michigan in points (21) and assists (17), which rank third and second, respectively, in the Big Ten … Senior Tony Calderone is tied for the league lead in goals (10) and is second on the team in points (15) … Junior Joseph Cecconi leads all U-M defensemen in points (3-7-10) … U-M features a pair of sophomores in Hayden Lavigne and Jack LaFontaine … LaFontaine has eight starts, going 4-3 with a 3.61 GAA and .884 save percentage, while Lavigne is 2-3-2 with a 3.02 GAA and .899 save percentage … Michigan ranks fifth in the nation in goals per game (3.5) and 53rd in goals allowed per game (3.43).
At Their Best vs. Michigan
A pair of rookies last season in Taro Hirose and Sam Saliba made immediate impacts in the rivalry last season as both players registered six points in the five games against the Wolverines. Saliba had three goals and three assists, including both of the Spartans’ game-winners. Hirose had a shorthanded goal in the Spartans’ second win at Yost and added five assists.
Another sophomore, Logan Lambdin, performed well against the Wolverines as he had three points in four games vs. Michigan.
In goal, Ed Minney’s best career numbers against any Big Ten team have come vs. Michigan - 2.08 GAA and .915 save percentage. John Lethemon’s .904 save percentage vs. the Wolverines is tops for him against any Big Ten team.
The Most-Played Rivalry in College Hockey
With the 315th and 316th all-time meetings on the horizon this week, the Spartans and Wolverines have met more times than any other programs in college hockey. By games played, the next closest rivalry is Denver-Colorado College with 308 all-time meetings, followed by Minnesota and North Dakota at 295.
KHL Line Delivering Offense
The Spartans’ top line of Patrick Khodorenko, Taro Hirose and Mitchell Lewandowski has been nothing short of excellent so far this season. The trio, which has been together since game one, has combined for nearly half of the Spartans’ total points with a combined 19 goals and 30 assists for 49 points. At least one member of the KHL line has been involved in 13 of the last 16 Spartan goals over a span of seven games.
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 freshmen nationally in points (18), points-per-game (1.12), and game-winning goals (3).
Hirose, the Spartans’ top-returning point producer from last year with 24, has 18 points (6g, 12a) so far this season. He has recorded at least a point in 13 of 16 games. Hirose’s seven-game point streak (Nov. 10 – Dec. 1) was the longest by a Spartan since Mackenzie MacEachern’s eight-game point streak in 2016.
Khodorenko, who was linemates in midget hockey with Lewandowski, ranks third on the team in points (13) and has points in five of the last seven games (6a) entering Thursday’s game.
The trio is a part of the Spartans’ top power-play unit where they have combined for 20 points (7g, 13a) on the man-advantage.
Lethemon Solid Between the Pipes
Sophomore John Lethemon has taken the lead in net for the Spartans as he has started 14 of 16 games and has been in goal for all seven Spartan wins. Over the last seven games, Lethemon has a 1.93 GAA and .938 save percentage. He has allowed two or fewer goals in eight of his 14 starts on the year and has two shutouts. He had a career-high 41 saves in the 2-2 tie at Penn State on Nov. 25.
The native of Northville has improved his save percentage by .043 and lowered his goals-against average by 1.32 over last season as he enters Thursday’s game with a .916 save percentage and 2.32 goals-against average - both third best in the Big Ten.
MSU has killed 14 of the last 16 opponent power plays (87.5%) over the last seven games ... Spartan opponents have had just one power play in each of the last three games … The Spartan power play ranks third in the Big Ten and 25th in the country at 20% … Taro Hirose is tied for the Big Ten lead in power-play points (9) and power-play assists (8) … Mitchell Lewandowski leads MSU in power-play goals with four and Cody Milan ranks second with three ... The Spartans started the year with at least one power-play goal in each of the first four games, going 5-for-19 (26.3%).
Strong on Home Ice
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 a solid 6-3 start with two shutouts.
Of Note From the Notre Dame Series
The Spartans had their best weekend in the faceoff circle, posting a .591 winning percentage … MSU held the Irish to 18 shots on Dec. 1, the second fewest by an opponent this season … Notre Dame was not called for a penalty in the Dec. 2 game, marking the first time since Jan. 17, 2014 in a win at Penn State that a Spartan opponent did not take a penalty … Friday night’s crowd of 6,392 was the Spartans’ first sellout of the season.
More on Lewy’s Hot Start
Mitchell Lewandowski has recorded three, four-point weekends - earning Big Ten weekly honors after each. Most recently, 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).
Gatt Leading a Young D Corps
As the lone senior in the Spartans’ lineup for 12 games this season and one of three assistant captains, senior defenseman Carson Gatt’s leadership has been essential. Just as important has been Gatt’s offensive production as he leads all Spartan defensemen with 10 points (2g, 8a). Gatt has points in four of the last eight games with two goals and four assists over the stretch.
Gatt had a career-best 12 points last season and earned All-Big Ten honorable mention.
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 12 of the team’s 16 games. MSU’s 19 underclassmen are tied for the third-most freshmen and sophomores in college hockey.
Freshman Mitchell Lewandowski leads all freshmen nationally in points with 18 and as a whole, the freshman class has combined for 30% 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 been able to hold leads, going 5-1 when leading after the first period and 5-0-1 when leading after two ... The Spartans are 7-1 when scoring first ... MSU is 5-1 when generating at least 30 shots on goal, last year MSU was 3-6 when doing so ... MSU is 6-1 when scoring at least three goals ... The Spartans have allowed two or fewer goals a total of seven times this year, going 5-1-1 in such contests; last season MSU allowed two or fewer goals a total of eight times 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).
Michigan State will meet the USNTDP U-18 team in Plymouth on Saturday, Dec. 16 in an exhibition game at 7 p.m. It will be the Spartans’ final game before the GLI, Jan. 1-2 at Little Caesars Arena.