This weekend, Michigan State will welcome No. 16 Penn State to East Lansing for the second series between the two teams this season. Both teams faced off against each other to open up Big Ten play back in December; the Nittany Lions completed a decisive sweep over the Spartans, winning 4-2 and 6-1 in the two games, respectively.
This weekend will be key for both teams in terms of keeping pace in the Big Ten race. Penn State currently sits with 21 points, which is six points behind conference leaders Minnesota and Michigan. Both the Golden Gophers and Wolverines play this weekend, so a Nittany Lions sweep will be important if they want to stay at the top of the pack. Towards the bottom of the conference standings sit the Spartans. MSU currently sits with 9 points in conference play. If they were to sweep this weekend, MSU could pass Ohio State and move into fourth in the B1G standings.
Location: Munn Ice Arena. East Lansing, MI.
Dates & Times: Friday Feb. 12 (7:05 p.m.). Saturday Feb. 13 (7:05 p.m.).
TV: BTN Plus.
Radio: Spartans Sports Network.
Michigan State: (3-9-0 B1G, 7-19-2 OVR): The Spartans are coming off a split with the Wolverines, including a hard-fought and emotional victory that saw them bring the first Iron D trophy back to Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans have quietly building momentum over the past few weeks with series splits with Ohio State and Michigan. This is not the same team that Penn State saw in December. Expect the Spartans to come out with a lot of energy, especially after dropping another game at home to Michigan last weekend.
No. 16 Penn State: (7-5-0 B1G, 17-8-3 OVR): The Nittany Lions are coming off a split with Minnesota, in which they lost game one 4-1 and came back to win 5-3 in game two. Led by their explosive offensive, they are in the midst of a remarkable season in just their fourth year as a program. The Spartans found out firsthand how dynamic the Penn State offense is as they gave up 10 goals in two games earlier this year. The Nittany Lions will have to keep their offensive firepower going if they want to slow an MSU team hungry for revenge.
GPG – 2.39 (43rd in Nation)
GAA – 3.46 (Tied 50th in Nation)
GPG – 3.86 (5th in Nation)
GAA – 3.00 (37th in Nation)
I am going to predict yet another series split this weekend. The Spartans are going to come out Friday night looking to avenge not only their loss to Michigan at home last weekend but the sweep that Penn State had over them earlier this season. With the help of a stellar performance from goalie Jake Hildebrand and the home crowd, the Spartans will win game one. However, they will not be able to hold that Nittany Lion offense down two nights in a row, as PSU will come back and take game two.