Hockey Preview: Michigan State

Audio/Story posted January 12, 2017 in CommRadio, Sports by Sports Staff


Joe Murphy, Brian McLaughlin and Zach Kaplan look at this weekend's matchup between the Nittany Lions and the visiting Michigan State Spartans. You can listen to both games at 


After a month-long hiatus, Penn State will return to the Pegula Ica Arena for a home series against Michigan State. The Nittany Lions are off to their best start in their brief program history, entering this weekend as the No. 4 team in the USCHO poll. Guy Gadowsky’s team split its series with No. 9 Ohio State in Columbus last weekend.

These two teams are trending divergently at the moment. Penn State is off to a 14-2 start (3-1 B1G), while Michigan State is 4-13-1 (0-4 B1G). Penn State ranks first in the conference in goals scored and goals allowed, while Michigan State is last in both categories.

Penn State has been terrific on the defensive end so far this season. This area was a point of emphasis for Gadowsky prior to the 2016-17 campaign. The Lions have always been elite offensively, but their defense has finally caught up this season, as they are now statistically the second-ranked defensive team in the nation.

Kevin Kerr, Trevor Hamilton and Erik Autio have all made major contributions on the back line, while Peyton Jones has been remarkable in net for a freshman. Jones is saving nearly 92 percent of the opponents’ shots, which is good for 18th nationally.

Up front, the Nittany Lions come into this weekend as the second-highest scoring team in college hockey. One of the staples for their offensive potency has been their tremendous depth. Touted freshman Denis Smirnov, despite his struggles against Ohio State, sits at 11th in the country in points scored. Standout sophomore Andrew Sturtz is also the 12th leading goal scorer in college hockey, while senior captain David Goodwin is 25th in assists.

Outside of Sturtz and Smirnov, the Penn State scoring is very balanced. A total of 17 other Nittany Lions have scored this season, while Dylan Richard, Nate Sucese, Chase Berger, and Vince Pedrie have all found the back of the net at least five times. Nikita Pavlychev, Brandon Biro, and Liam Folkes are also dangerous with the puck.

The Spartans’ two top point-scorers are Mason Appleton (17) and Taro Hirose (11). Five other players have eclipsed nine points on the season, so depth has been a plus. Ed Minney will start in the net, with an 88 percent save rate this season.

Penn State is the far superior team in this matchup, and after being away from home for an entire month, expect them to come out with an abundance of energy. We’re beginning to enter the heart of Big Ten play, so anything can happen, but on paper this one looks like an easy sweep for the Nittany Lions.


Will Desautelle is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email

About the Contributors

Joe Esquivel-Murphy's photo

Joe Esquivel-Murphy

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a senior from Bay Head, NJ, majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. He has done play-by-play and beat writes for almost all the sports from CommRadio.  His two talk shows, Murph’s Lounge and Road to Russia, covered various different topics as the later previewed the qualification process to the World Cup with the former discussing relevant sports events. Joe also had an internship for Shore Sports Network (an affiliate of Town Square Media) before his junior year. To contact Joe, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Will Desautelle's photo

Will Desautelle

Senior / Broadcast Journalism and Spanish

Will Desautelle is a senior from Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in Spanish and a certificate in sports journalism. Will is a contributor for Centre County Report and is a staff writer for, covering Penn State men’s hockey and women’s and men’s volleyball. He also covered Super Bowl LIV in Miami for CommRadio and is one of the station’s editors. This past summer, Will interned at ABC-7/WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. and covered the Little League World Series as a beat writer for Little League International. Will has also completed internships with State College Magazine, the State College Spikes and Additionally, he is a member of the Penn State Men’s Club Volleyball team, which finished first place at nationals in 2019, and is a member of the THON Communications Committee. You can contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on Twitter @wdesautelle.

Brian McLaughlin's photo

Brian McLaughlin

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Brian McLaughlin is a Senior in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and one of two student General Managers for CommRadio. He is a Play-by-Play voice for many Penn State sports for CommRadio. Recently he has worked as a Play by Play broadcaster for the Y-D Red Sox in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Previously, he has also worked as a Play by Play Broadcaster for the Kalamazoo Growlers of the Northwoods League. He has also interned with the Altoona Curve, the Double-A Affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. To contact him please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Zach Kaplan's photo

Zach Kaplan

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Zach Kaplan is a senior broadcast journalism major with a double minor in history and sociology. Beyond his work with the Centre County Report, Zach is involved with CommRadio as a sports director and on-air personality, as well as a broadcaster for BTN Student U productions on-campus. He also works with 46Live both on-air and as a producer to provide live coverage of Penn State’s annual Dance Marathon.

Outside of his on-air work, Zach writes for Penn State Athletics covering men’s hockey and lacrosse and has held summer internships with Israel Sports Radio, the Cape Cod Baseball League, and the Coastal Plain League.