Fresh off a split with then No. 7 Wisconsin, Michigan State will participate in their third home-and-home series of the season, this time against Ferris State. Get to know the Spartans’ final opponent before conference play begins. This is your weekend hockey preview.
- Munn Ice Arena. East Lansing, Mich. (Friday)
- Ewigleben Arena. Big Rapids, Mich. (Saturday)
Dates and times:
- Friday, Nov. 17. 7:05 p.m.
- Saturday, Nov 18. 7:05 p.m.
- BTN Plus (Friday)
- Spartan Sports Network (Both games)
After a much needed split with Wisconsin last weekend, Michigan State’s upcoming series with the Bulldogs is arguably the most important series it will play for the rest of the season. The reasoning is not as obvious as it may seem. With a 5-1 record, all while outscoring their opponents 24-15, the Spartans’ dominance on home ice is apparent. It’s on the road where coach Danton Cole and co. have struggled, as they have yet to win a game away from East Lansing. That’s why this weekend is so important. To close out the calendar year, Michigan State will play road games in four out of seven games. If it gets a road win on Saturday, it could help Michigan State’s confidence going forward as it heads to the hostile environments of Penn State and No. 17 Michigan.
One of the best ways to measure improvement from last season to now has a lot to do with Michigan State beating the teams it should. Ferris State is one of those teams. The Bulldogs boast a 3-2 record at home with both losses coming at the hands of Northern Michigan along with wins against Western Michigan and a sweep of Alaska last weekend. A quick glance at the statistics, and you’ll learn that Ferris State has only managed to score an average of 2.08 goals this season, while giving up and average of 3.00, good for 57th and 34th respectively in the nation. The Spartans, on the other hand, average just under three goals per game, while giving up 2.90. On paper at least, this is a series Michigan State should be able to handle.
Players to watch
Senior forward Mitch Maloney is the Bulldog you’ll want to keep an eye on this weekend. Maloney leads the team with seven goals in twelve games played. The closest candidate has three. What’s most impressive about Maloney’s ability to put the puck in the net, is his ability to do it on the power play as 43 percent of his goals have come with the man-advantage. With Michigan State’s power play killing of 30-of-39 opportunities this season, that will definitely be an intriguing matchup to watch.
If you’ve followed Michigan State hockey at all this season, you know that Mitch Lewandowski has taken the hockey world by storm on the banks of the Red Cedar. With 13 points (6G, 7A) in 10 games played, the freshman has done a lot to fill the void left by Mason Appleton leaving to pursue his NHL dreams last season with the Winnipeg Jets organization. However, unlike last season, the Spartan offense has been flowing through more than just one player. The newly named “KHL Line,” consisting of Patrick Khodorenko, Taro Hirose and Lewandowski have combined for 32 points and are gelling perhaps more than any line I’ve seen in my time covering Michigan State hockey. Watch them this weekend and you’ll see what I mean.
In my time covering Michigan State hockey under the Danton Cole regime, I’ve often heard the word “confidence” thrown around by coaches and players. This team believes in its talent and its ability to compete with any team on college hockey. With a tough stretch ahead against college hockey giants like Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan, a successful weekend could do a lot for the Spartans’ confidence as they head into Big Ten play. And what better way to gain confidence than with a sweep of Ferris State?