Michigan State hockey wrapped up the month of January with a 3-3-2 record against conference opponents.
The latest test for the Spartans came this past weekend when it traveled to South Bend, IN to take on a powerful No. 11 Notre Dame team. The Fighting Irish swept MSU in East Lansing back in mid-November.
MSU was able to conclude the weekend with a point, tying in Saturday’s contest 1-1. This served as the final meeting of the two teams during the 2018-19 regular season.
With just eight games left on the schedule, the 9-13-4 Spartans will have to play well in the defensive zone with the University of Wisconsin rolling into town on Friday.
Wisconsin is locked up with Penn State and Michigan State for the last spot in the conference with a 9-11-4 (5-5-4) record.
The good news for MSU is that their last series at home was an utter success; sweeping a very talented Minnesota team. The bad news is that they were swept by Wisconsin on the road back in December.
Wisconsin is coming to East Lansing having split their last series with Minnesota.
This might be a battle between the two lowest-standing teams in the conference, but the intensity of the game will be nothing short of the postseason.
“Every week right now does feel like a two-game playoff series,” coach Danton Cole told the media. “If you can get four, five, or six points out of a weekend, you’re going to make a jump.”
That’s what Cole and the Spartans have in mind for this weekend: to make the jump.
Looking at the statistics and past matchups between the two teams, it is imperative for MSU to keep pucks out of the net, as well as maintaining production from their outstandingly offensive first line. Wisconsin has 15 fewer goals against on the season than MSU does, yet both teams have relatively similar goals on the year.
Taro Hirose still leads the nation in points (42) and assists (29) and has been doing this for four consecutive weeks. Hirose, alongside his linemates Patrick Khodorenko and Mitchell Lewandowski, has totaled 98 points for the Spartans this season.
The starting goaltending position for this weekend is still in debate. Freshman Drew DeRidder allowed only one goal against Notre Dame last Saturday. If I had a guess, he’ll be in the blue paint Friday night.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m.