Spartans welcome Cornell for regular season opener at Munn Ice Arena

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Drew DeRidder/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

Kyle Hatty, Hockey Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING – The Michigan State Spartans welcome the No. 4-ranked Cornell Big Red to Munn Ice Arena in the home opener for the Spartans. Michigan State comes in with a 2-2 record, while Cornell has yet to play a game that counts on the record.

Cornell will be looking to avenge last season’s result, when Michigan State went to top-10 ranked Cornell and swept them early in the season. Cornell will be looking to avenge last year’s sweep, while head coach Danton Cole’s squad will look to pull off another upset, this time with Munn helping them out.

Cornell may be the toughest opponent Michigan State plays all season. The Big Red have made the 16-team NCAA tournament as an at-large bid every year for the past three years, and this Cornell squad will be just as talented.

Cornell brings three preseason All-ECAC Hockey selections: senior defenseman Yanni Kaldis, junior forward Morgan Barron and the biggest task for Michigan State, junior goaltender Matthew Galajda.

Galajada is an elite goaltender for Cornell, as a freshman, he was a Hobey Baker award finalist and was the Ivy League player of the year. He also was an All-ECAC honorable mention last year. However, he was in net both games last year when MSU swept the weekend series, so Michigan State will be going up a very good goaltender who has something to prove against the Spartans.

On the Michigan State side of things, they are coming off a split at Colorado College, but made major strides in the second game after they put on an offensive showcase on Saturday, winning 5-1 after forward Mitchell Lewandowski was moved down to the second line in favor of Sam Saliba.

First line center Patrick Khodorenko is also coming off a strong Saturday performance, tallying three assists in the win out west, including one to his freshman winger Nicolas Müller, who logged his first goal of the season. The Spartans are also getting very strong goaltending so far this season with senior John Lethemon and sophomore Drew DeRidder both performing well.

The two teams match up well with each other. Both rely on a lot of offense created by their blue lines and are anchored by strong goaltending. If Michigan State’s forwards can be strong in the offensive zone and get out to early leads and lean on their home crowd, another upset is not an improbable outcome.