College Hockey Game of the Week: Michigan State and Minnesota face off in heavyweight battle
Red-hot Michigan State is playing host to an ever-explosive Minnesota squad this week in a pivotal Big Ten hockey matchup.
The Spartans are currently on a three-game winning streak and are catching fire at the right time. The streak consists of a sweep over Miami (OH) and a win against No. 6 Penn State.
The green and white have a new bench boss in East Lansing this season. Adam Nightingale is bringing his coaching experience from the United States National Development Program and other coaching jobs to the Spartans, helping spark success this season.
The team has a solid backbone in goaltender Dylan St. Cyr. The graduate transfer netminder has a .932 save percentage this season on top of a 2.13 average goals allowed mark, helping steal games for Michigan State.
The Spartans have found some gems in their freshman class this season. Daniel Russell and Karsen Dorwart lead the team in points as freshmen with 18 and 17, respectively.
Senior forward Nicolas Müller is third on the team with 16 points, 13 of them coming on assists. He’s dishing the rubber around among the best in the country right now.
Nash Nienhuis and Matt Basgall are leading the team on the blue line, playing key roles on special teams for Michigan State. Nienhuis has 11 points while Basgall has 10 points on the season. Basgall has also been a sponge this season with 31 blocked shots on the season helping out his netminder, St. Cyr.
Minnesota is off to another strong start to this year's campaign under Bob Motzko. The team was on a four-game winning streak before it was snapped by Arizona State in overtime at Mullet Arena. Although this was a step back for the Gophers, there were many positives from the weekend.
Logan Cooley buried an incredible “Michigan” goal against the Sun Devils and has been on a tear this season alongside Jimmy Snuggerud and Matthew Knies.
Snuggerud leads the team with 20 points as a freshman, Cooley and Knies both have 16 points and the trio of American forwards have been a frightening task for opposing defenders.
The production does not stop at these three players. Jaxon Nelson and Jackson LaCombe have also been putting up impressive numbers for the maroon and gold. Both have 15 points on the season and have been showcasing their senior experience.
LaCombe has an experienced counterpart arming the blue lines with him in Brock Faber. Faber leads the team with 28 blocked shots while also contributing 11 points offensively. Faber is showcasing his two-way game to the country, showing why the Minnesota Wild traded for his rights in the NHL.
Justin Close has been kicking pucks all season for the Gophers and is giving Motzko plenty of reasons to ride him in the blue paint. His .910 save percent and 2.22 goals allowed average is stellar and places him in the top 20 amongst all NCAA goalies.
Both teams have been stellar this season in the Big Ten and either team could secure a win on both nights in East Lansing. Michigan State is a team that was not expected to be as good as it is this season, and in front of a home crowd in Munn Ice Arena, has a great chance to keep winning.
Minnesota is looking to get back in the win column while Michigan State looks to continue its winning streak. It should be a tight-checking, fast-paced series in East Lansing as these two heavyweights battle it out on the frozen pond.
Hayden Lewis is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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