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Michigan State lands Cornell goaltender Nate McDonald via transfer portal

April 12, 2022
<p>Then-senior right wing Sam Saliba (10) fights for the puck during the game against Cornell at Munn Ice Arena on Nov. 1, 2019. The Spartans fell 2-3 to the Big Red.</p>

Then-senior right wing Sam Saliba (10) fights for the puck during the game against Cornell at Munn Ice Arena on Nov. 1, 2019. The Spartans fell 2-3 to the Big Red.

Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

As of Monday afternoon, Michigan State had just two goaltenders slated for the 2022-23 roster. Head Coach Danton Cole has solved that scarcity, adding Cornell goaltender Nate McDonald via the transfer portal.

McDonald spent four years and three seasons with Cornell due to the cancelation of the 2020-21 season. McDonald's only game action before last season came in 2019-20 when he made nine saves in an exhibition game. McDonald finally got his chance last season, splitting goaltending duties with two others on the roster, and showed promise with a 7-1-1 record, 2.38 GAA and a .904 save percentage.

The overarching question is whether or not MSU can supplant the production of goaltender Drew DeRidder, who transferred to North Dakota as a graduate student. DeRidder stood on his head for the last two seasons with a career year in 2020-21, posting a 2.76 GAA and a .923 save percentage as the full-time starter. He followed up with another solid senior campaign, notching a 2.94 GAA and .918 save percentage. It didn't necessarily translate into wins, but without DeRidder, the Spartans likely would have won even fewer than their modest 19 victories over the last two years.

Juniors Pierce Charleson and Jon Mor are the other two netminders on the roster. Charleson is the only one with game experience, appearing in a career-high 12 games last season. He was great in a limited sample size as a freshman, earning the starting nod in the 2021 Big Ten Tournament and willing MSU to an overtime 2-1 loss to Minnesota. However, he took a step back as a sophomore with a lowly 3.65 GAA and .904 save percentage. Charleson has shown the potential to be a dominant goalie in the Big Ten, but it depends if his freshman or sophomore season is closer to the truth of his skillset.

Mor, on the other hand, has yet to touch the ice in a game. He's the mystery of the bunch. Mor's junior stats are nothing to get excited about; he's yet to record a save percentage above .900 or a GAA below 3.49 in his career, dating back to 2016-17. But, he spent two seasons with the U.S. National Team playing with numerous stars who are currently wreaking havoc in the NHL. Clearly, the coaches saw something in Mor. Perhaps he's improved enough to earn playing time next season.

Only time will tell how the goaltending minutes will be divided.

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