Michigan State vs. LIU preview: players to watch, predictions and more


Michigan State celebrates a goal in front of the student section. / Photo Credit: Sarah Smith

Jacob Stinson, Hockey Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING — While Michigan State had its homecoming last weekend, former Spartans forward Adam Goodsir will get his own Friday.

Goodsir, an Okemos native, transferred to Long Island University in May after four seasons with Michigan State. As a result, he has taken a larger role within the Sharks’ offense, posting a goal and an assist in the team’s first four games.

This weekend, Goodsir will make his return to East Lansing for a two-game series against his former school.

LIU is 1-2-1 and is coming off a string of tight games against high-end programs. Aside from a 7-1 win against Stonehill, LIU has taken both No. 9 Northeastern and No. 7 Quinnipiac to overtime, tying the latter. More of the same continued last week, where a flukey bounce over the top of goalie Vinnie Purpura was the only goal in a 1-0 loss to Rensselaer.

Michigan State is 2-2-0 and has split both of its regular season series, most recently against No. 16 UMass-Lowell. After a Tanner Kelly penalty shot gave the Spartans the Game one win, penalty trouble forced Michigan State to play on its heels for the first two periods, entering the third down three goals to none. While the Spartans dominated the third period, outshooting UMass-Lowell 24-5 in that span, the team could not bury the final goal it needed, resulting in a 3-2 loss.

This weekend will mark the first-ever meeting between Michigan State and LIU since the Sharks made the jump to Division I in 2020-21.

Following this weekend, Michigan State will open Big Ten play on the road at No. 13 Notre Dame.

Players to watch

Daniel Russell, F, Michigan State: One thing that Michigan State hockey has lacked over the past few seasons has been a dynamic scorer that can create his offense when needed. Russell is that. He’s fast, has a hard shot, and has the burst to create space from defenders. And so far, he’s proven that he can score in several ways. He’s scored everywhere from tip-ins to wrist shots from the top of the face-off circle. He’s had a point in every game so far, so expect more of the same.

Nicolas Müller, F, Michigan State: While the main story for Michigan State has been Daniel Russell and his five points, Müller has quietly been just as good. He has four assists in as many games, including two helpers during the third-period frenzy last Saturday. Look for Müller to continue his strong playmaking against a vulnerable LIU defense.

Vinnie Purpura, G, LIU: The LIU defense has been shaky so far, allowing 32.3 shots on goal per game, but Purpura has picked up the slack in net. He has two games with at least 35 saves, leading to an outstanding .946 save percentage through four starts. He’s capable of keeping his team in games, which could spell trouble for a Michigan State team that’s tied for the fifth-worst shot percentage in the NCAA (6.2%).

Impact staff predictions

Stinson: Michigan State sweeps. Michigan State has been piling the shots on goal this year, and while Purpura is the best goalie the Spartans will have faced so far, the LIU defense is weak enough to allow Michigan State to get a couple of those chances through. 

Ryan Radosevich, Hockey Beat Reporter: Michigan State sweeps. The Spartans’ high-octane play style and ability to get quality chances should be what decides this weekend’s slate. LIU relies on its goaltending a lot. Although MSU has one of the lowest shot-to-goal percentages in the nation, I think that changes this weekend, and the green and white pick up the series sweep.

Jacob Phillips, Hockey Beat Reporter: Both teams split. Purpura has an impressive save percentage when compared to his team’s schedule. He’ll prove a challenge to the Spartans’ offense. However, MSU has been more aggressive with shots on goal, outshooting its opponents in every regular season game so far. It comes down to better offense against better goaltending, so don’t be surprised if the Spartans split a third series in a row.

Puck drop for the first game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 at Munn Ice Arena. Game two will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday.