College Hockey Series of the Week: No. 2 Minnesota vs. No. 15 Michigan State
The Big Ten conference continues to prove week after week that it is a gauntlet of a conference.
For this week's top series, we take a trip to the top of the conference as No. 2 Minnesota looks to widen its lead on the rest of the conference hosting No. 15 Michigan State.
The Golden Gophers hold a 10-point lead over second-place Penn State and Ohio State while the Spartans are just three points behind them in fourth place.
These two teams met in early December, resulting in a Minnesota sweep in East Lansing early in conference play.
Freshman forward Logan Cooley scored twice in the opening game in what was a dominating 5-0 Golden Gophers win.
Despite a two-goal game of his own from junior forward Jeremy Davidson, the golden Gophers completed the sweep with a 6-3 victory.
Since that sweep, the Golden Gophers have only lost two games, both of which came against top-10 teams.
Minnesota enters the weekend with an 18-7-1 record.
A big part of that success comes from the aforementioned Cooley who is tied for the team lead with 31 points.
The standout freshman was selected third overall in last year's draft to the Arizona Coyotes.
Cooley is tied in points with another Minnesota freshman: forward Jimmy Snuggerud who was also selected in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft by the St. Louis Blues.
The two are joined by goaltender Justin Close who is having a phenomenal season in his own right.
Close has already won 15 games this season while posting a goals against average of 2.14.
As for the Spartans, they have struggled to turn things around after their last Minnesota series.
Michigan State went on to win one of its next six games before starting to re-right the ship in Happy Valley picking up a win and a tie, bringing their overall record to 13-11-2.
That brings the Spartans to now, where they have since had the week off to further prepare for this matchup.
Like the Golden Gophers, Michigan State is also led by a pair of freshmen on the offensive end.
Forwards Karsen Dorwart and Daniel Russell are tied for the team lead with 22 points each accounting for seven goals and 15 assists.
The Spartans have also received consistent goaltending from graduate-student Dylan St.Cyr who has won 12 games with a goals against average of 2.62.
In the heat of conference play, this is a big series for both sides as the Golden Gophers look to come closer to clinching the top spot in the Big Ten while the Spartans look to make a push to finish a spot below them.
Who comes out on top? My early money is on the favorite to keep its success going.
Prediction: Minnesota Sweep
Logan Bourandas is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.