After being swept on the road at Boston College, No. 12 Michigan State Hockey looks to bounce back this weekend against No. 13 Ohio State in Columbus.
While the series in Boston was not exactly what the Spartans were hoping for, the team still had a lot of positives come out of the series and lessons were learned that will carry into the start of conference play.
“[The Boston College series] is gonna help our team be a lot better and give us a great roadmap for things to work on and keep growing our game,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “Anytime you can play a quality opponent on the road like that you learn a lot about your team.”
Despite the 6-4 and 5-1 losses to BC, the team showed a lot of grit and determination, even if the scores did not show it. The team’s main goals since the start of this season have not wavered: develop their players and play their game. That is still the sole focus as conference play begins.
The trip to Boston was a great way for the team to grow and face adversity from a tough competitor. This team will face many more top opponents as they enter Big Ten play, with six out of the seven teams being ranked in the Top 25. The Spartans used their non-conference slate to strengthen their lines and get used to working together cohesively, with so many new players.
“I think it’s good to get a good series like that early in the season,” sophomore Issac Howard said. “When the meaningful games come later in the season you can learn from that, so it’s important to keep growing as a team.”
The top line of Karsen Dorwart, Daniel Russell, and Issac Howard had a successful weekend in Boston. Dorwart had three goals on the weekend and is now tied with Russell for the team lead in goals with five. Howard also picked up some points on the road trip with three assists.
“I think we all expect ourselves to produce so it was good to get on the score sheet,” Dorwart said. “Guys are starting to find each other a little more in the o-zone or on the breakout so it’s good to see the boys gel together.”
Ohio State is coming off a split with Omaha after a 1-0-1 weekend. Junior goaltender Logan Terness was named Big Ten First Star of the Week for his performance in the series which included a 4-0 shutout on the second night. He had a total of 64 saves on the weekend and is leading the Big Ten with 29.14 saves per game. MSU’s Trey Augustine is right behind him with 27.71 saves per game.
In the 19 Buckeye goals this season, the team has seen 14 different goal scorers. Sophomore Davis Burnside leads the team with three goals and is tied for first with seven points. Michael Gildon, Scooter Brickey, and Brent Johnson are the only other players with multiple goals (2). This will be the Buckeye’s second Big Ten opponent after splitting with Michigan, falling 7-1 in the first game and a 2-2 OT tie on night two.
Michigan State leads the series against Ohio State overall with a 97-56-13 record and has also controlled the win column in Columbus with a 42-27-6 lead. Last year, each team swept on their home rinks. With the Buckeyes looking to find their first sweep of the season, and the Spartans trying to bounce back after a tough series in Boston, both teams will surely come out fighting this weekend.
“It will be a really good test for us and the guys know that,” Nightingale said. “We need to identify the moments that really impact the game and make sure they are aware of it.”
The teams will face off on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. in Columbus before the Spartans head back to East Lansing for a two-series home stretch.