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PSU Hockey Series Preview: Michigan State Edition

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The Lions host Sparty for a pair in State College this weekend.

Where: Pegula Ice Arena, State College, Pa.

When: Friday 7 p.m.  Saturday 5 p.m.

Television: Friday-none. Saturday-ESPNU

Live Stream: Friday-BTN2GO Plus (subscription) Saturday-BTN2GO

The Nittany Lions (10-7-2 overall, 4-2 B1G) will take on Michigan State (7-10-1) in a series that could give PSU a boost back into first-place in the B1G standings. Current #1 Michigan (4-1 B1G) will play two on the road against #3 Ohio State (2-3 B1G) this weekend. Minnesota will host Wisconsin for a pair in Mariucci Arena in other Big Ten action.

The students will be back in full force for the first time since Halloween. The games should have a very noticeable increase in energy originating from the stands.

Scouting The Opponent

Michigan State is currently ranked 40th in the Pairwise rankings. That leaves the team sandwiched between Bentley and Holy Cross, two teams that PSU swept earlier in the year in consecutive series at Pegula Ice Arena. Sparty has had a fairly consistent season. After a 1-4 start it has gone 6-6-1 since.

There aren't many secrets to the Spartan's game-plan. It has a great goalie in Butler, Pa.'s Jake Hildebrand. He has started every game and is the only goalie to take the ice this year for MSU. He brings a very solid 2.52 goals against average to State College. The team employs a strategy geared toward protecting Hildebrand at all costs.

The team plays it safe on offense in order to avoid putting Hildebrand in a bad position. MSU averages 30.5 shots on goal per game. The team does not play a methodical style of offense such as former PSU opponents Bentley, Wisconsin, or U-Mass Lowell. It just doesn't have much offensive skill. The team only allows 27.6 shots on goal mostly due to the coordinated effort to protect the star goalie. This is the fewest shots on goal allowed in the B1G.

Casey Bailey vs Hildebrand

Michigan State is not a deep team. Twelve players have played in all eighteen games thus far, signifying that there haven't been many healthy-scratches for the team. Conversely Penn State has only three players, Loik, Koudys and Bailey, who have suited up for all the games the team has played.

Michigan State will enter the two-game series having only played three games since December 6th. This will be the first time it has left the state of Michigan since November.

NOTES:

  • NHL great Peter Bondra's son David is a red-shirt sophomore for the Spartans. He has only played in three games this year.
  • There is a basketbockey double-header this Saturday in State College. The hoops team plays Purdue at the Bryce Jordan center at 1 p.m. and the second game of the hockey series will be played across the street inside Pegula at 5 p.m. Both games will be televised on ESPNU.
  • Penn State will be wearing the 3rd, or alternative, jersey this weekend. There has been a great deal of secrecy surrounding the look of the attire. We will have to wait and see how it looks when the team skates on to the ice for warm-ups.
  • The comment section of this article will be used as the open-thread discussion during the game.
  • Hockey players don't need a reason to grow a 'stache. Eamon's rocking one outside of Movember with no apologies. Each morning when McAdam looks into the mirror, his facial hair thanks him for the opportunity.