Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Depth on offense improving steadily for Michigan State hockey

November 23, 2021
<p>Michigan State and Ferris State players stare down a loose puck during the second period. The Spartans beat the Bulldogs, 2-0, in the final minutes of the game on Nov. 11, 2021. </p>

Michigan State and Ferris State players stare down a loose puck during the second period. The Spartans beat the Bulldogs, 2-0, in the final minutes of the game on Nov. 11, 2021.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

Ever since the three goal comeback against Ferris State a few weeks ago, the offense seems to be firing on all cylinders for Michigan State hockey. The Spartans followed up the sweep of FSU with two wins against the Wisconsin Badgers, netting eight goals in total against one of the best goaltenders in the Big Ten, Jared Moe. 

Heading into the series, the Spartans offense averaged 2.25 goals per game, relying on senior goalkeeper Drew DeRidder in net and good defensive performances for wins. 

But it was the offense that showed up against the Badgers, scoring three goals Friday night and five goals Saturday. 

Fifth-year forward Mitchell Lewandowski is an essential piece of MSU’s offensive success. Despite missing four games, the senior forward leads the team in points (five goals and eight assists) and plus/minus differential (+11). He scored a goal and tacked on two assists in the two games against Wisconsin. 

“Having Mitch Lewandowski evens out our lines quite a bit. That spreads out the scoring, makes it harder on other teams to match up. He brings a certain confidence,” MSU Head Coach Danton Cole said.

In Lewandowski’s four game absence (two games against Ohio State and two against Michigan), the offense averaged less than two goals per game. Since his return, the Spartans have averaged 3.5 goals per game. He is a pure playmaker, creating quality scoring chances with his clever passes and high IQ when it comes to hockey. 

Lewandowski’s offensive abilities are nothing new, but this season, the rest of the forwards on the roster are stepping up and providing depth.

Friday night, junior forward Erik Middendorf scored two goals against the Badgers, including the game-winner. Middendorf has been a certified clutch for the Spartans all season with four of his five goals this season being game winners, the most on the roster. 

Sophomore forward Jeremy Davidson has been a lethal goal scorer all year. Saturday night, he was awarded the first star of the game after netting two goals. Davidson now leads the team in goals, with seven. 

After a stretch of solid play, freshman forward Jesse Tucker was finally rewarded with a goal Saturday night, his first of the season and the first of his collegiate career. The freshman now has seven points on the season with one goal and six assists. 

It is not just the forwards that are stepping up on offense. Senior defenseman Dennis Cesana netted his third goal of the season on Saturday and senior defenseman Cole Krygier tallied three assists on the weekend. The defenders have been solid all season, moving the puck well in transition and in the offensive zone.

Michigan State heads into the Thanksgiving bye week on a four game winning streak. MSU is now in fifth place in the Big Ten standings, just below Notre Dame. If Michigan State wants to continue ascending the standings, the offense will have to continue performing at a high level. 

After the weekend of rest, the Spartans head east to University Park to face off against Penn State. The Nittany Lions are currently last in the Big Ten standings. The opening puck drop of the two-game series is set for 7 p.m. on Dec. 3. 

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