It comes down to this weekend for Michigan State hockey.
This weekend’s matchup against No. 17 Penn State is without a doubt the most important series of the 2018-2019 regular season. The Nittany Lions are heading to East Lansing for Friday’s game coming off a spectacular sweep against Minnesota. On the other side of the pillow, the Spartans dropped both road games to Mel Pearson’s revived Michigan team this past weekend.
In conference standings, the two teams do not stray far away from each other. Penn State ranks fifth in the conference, MSU ranks sixth. Back in early January, the series between the two out in “Hockey Valley” ended in a split.
This series can not end in a split if seniors Zach Osburn, Brennan Sanford and Cody Milan want to play another game at Munn after this weekend is concluded.
Penn State scorers Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges will be the biggest problems for MSU this weekend. The Spartan defense has to demand respect in the slot and around their goaltender.
Don’t be surprised if John Lethemon starts one of the two games in net against the Nittany Lions after riding the bench for the last five games.
All in all, this is a do or die scenario for Michigan State. Two regulation wins this weekend and one next weekend against No. 2 Ohio State will give them a shot at home-ice advantage for the Big Ten Tournament in March.