Thursday, December 2, 2021

Drew DeRidder, Pierce Charleson hold down the posts for MSU Hockey

October 18, 2021

After pulling out to a 1-0 lead in the second period, the Spartans went scoreless and fell to the Badgers. With the win, Wisconsin clinched the Big Ten Championship.

This past weekend, Michigan State was outshot in both games of its home stand against Miami. The Redhawks finished the series with a combined 65 shots on goal, while MSU had 52.

And yet, the Spartans skated away with a sweep.

The difference-maker? One of the best goalie duos in the Big Ten.

“We’ve got one of the best goalie tandems in college hockey," Erik Middendorf, the junior forward that scored the game-winning goal Saturday night, said. "It’s unbelievable, the stuff that these two bring every game."

Senior goalie Drew DeRidder got the start Saturday, earning the first star of the game with a .972 save percentage on 36 shots. The experienced goaltender faced his toughest test during a five-minute Redhawk power play, where he made some key saves to keep the game in reach and shift momentum towards the Spartans.

“There weren’t a lot of whistles, they had the puck a long time in our zone. Getting through those makes everything else seem a little bit easier,” DeRidder said.

Sophomore goalie Pierce Charleson started in the crease Friday night, letting just one of Miami’s 29 shots find the back of the net in Michigan State’s 3-1 victory.

The goalies each made a start last weekend as well. Although DeRidder was in net for the Friday night loss against Air Force, he finished with a .923 save percentage against 39 shots on goal. Charleson was between the pipes Saturday, stifling Air Force's offense with a .966 save percentage in MSU's 5-1 win.

It seems the Spartans will continue to ride with the tandem system, as both goaltenders have been major contributing factors in the team’s 3-1 start to the season.

“As long as that competition pushes and pushes each other and makes them improve every week, and their relationship is good and competitive, it’s great for the team,” Michigan State Head Coach Danton Cole said.

Four games into the season, the Spartans have two goaltenders ranked in the top ten for save percentage in the NCAA. Charleson’s .966 in two starts is good for second in the nation, right behind Ohio State’s Jakub Dobeš. DeRidder is tied for seventh, holding a save percentage of .947 through two games.

Strong goaltending is going to be important heading into Big Ten play, which includes some of the strongest teams in all of college hockey. Last season, some stellar performances in net kept the Spartans competitive even at the bottom of the standings. In the first round of the Big Ten Tournament that year, Michigan State almost knocked off No. 2 Minnesota with Charleson’s ridiculous .958 save percentage against 48 shots on goal.

Michigan State faces its first road test of the season this weekend, as they head out east for a two-game series against UMass Lowell. The puck is set to drop at 7:15 p.m. Friday night in Massachusetts.

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