Game Preview: Penn State Men’s Hockey vs. Michigan State

Story posted February 23, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Evan Popalis

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Checking the rearview mirror isn’t an option for Penn State as it heads to East Lansing this weekend to do battle against Michigan State.

The Nittany Lions are coming off a weekend that witnessed them blow a three-goal lead on Saturday, resulting in a winless series against Minnesota.

Last weekend, the Spartans were stifled against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, getting swept on home ice. Michigan State has dropped twelve games in a row heading into the final weekend of the regular season before the Big Ten tournament gets underway.

Even with the colossal slide, the Spartans have the opportunity to leapfrog Penn State and Wisconsin in the conference standings if they can submit a winning effort on Friday and Saturday.

The last time these two sides squared off, a series split was in order at Pegula Ice Arena with Penn State taking the opener, 4-2, followed by a Spartan victory the following day, 4-3.

Game two of the series will be senior day for the Spartans. The emotions should be riding high for Michigan State as it looks to end the regular season on a high note.

Michigan State provides two players that have scored double-digit goals on the campaign. Junior forward Erik Middendorf and sophomore forward Jeremy Davidson have each tallied 11 goals this season, respectively.

“They play for each other,” freshman forward Carson Dyck said regarding Michigan State. “You want to play against those types of teams.”

Michigan State has struggled to score at even-strength play all season. However, the team boasts a 22.2% success rate on the power play. This season, the Spartans have scored 31.4% of their total goals on the man advantage.

Penn State could ride with a split net again for this weekend. Sophomore goaltender Liam Souliere has been remarkable as of late for the Nittany Lions. He provided a spark in net to keep his squad within reach Friday night versus the Golden Gophers.

Senior captain Paul DeNaples announced that he would return for another season. The Moscow, Pennsylvania, native has six goals and 26 assists during his Penn State tenure. He beholds a plus-50 rating in his career in the plus-minus department.

Freshman forward Ryan Kirwan continues to provide a scoring threat for the Nittany Lions. The DeWitt, New York, product has 11 goals and 23 points on the year, contributing two game-winning goals along the way.

“We are very impressed with [Kirwan’s] attention to detail,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “He knows what he has to do to make his game better.”

The defensive approach of Michigan State will attempt to deter the high-flying offense of the Nittany Lions. High shot totals have not always led to an input on the scoreboard for Penn State.

Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m., Friday at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Michigan. The series concludes Saturday night with a start time of 6 p.m.

Prediction: Series split


Evan Popalis is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

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Evan Popalis

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Evan Popalis is a third-year from Lititz, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a writer, analyst, and play-by-play commentator for the CommRadio sports department. His writings include weekly NHL betting previews along with power rankings for the NHL and NFL. He appears weekly on the NHL Podcast as a host and analyst reviewing the previous week’s action. If you would like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).