After its first Big Ten road sweep since 2016, the Michigan State hockey team is ready to travel home for its first Big Ten home series against Penn State. The team will be looking to keep the same mindset moving forward to attack and play the whole 60 minutes with all the momentum.
“I have a hard time with momentum in a game,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “I think you still need to go out and earn it on the weekend. And Penn State had a really good weekend with Notre Dame, so they’re going to come in here ready to go.”
After moving to No. 11 in the national polls, the Spartans are looking for their second consecutive sweep after splitting both series they played last season against the Nittany Lions.
“Your mindset is you want to win every game,” sophomore forward Karsen Dorwart said. “So you’re looking to sweep every weekend, and if you lose you’re going to be disappointed.”
The 6-0 game that opened up the Ohio State series last weekend brought freshman goalie Trey Augustine his first shutout of the season and his collegiate career.
“I think Friday was a good statement game for what we can be, and we’re just trying to repeat that,” Dorwart said.
The biggest difference that the team felt coming off of the successful weekend was the change of pace from competing in games against out of conference teams to the speed of Big Ten play and playing teams that the Spartans are highly familiar with.
“It is always going to be competitive in the Big Ten,” Dorwart said. “This scoreboard (against OSU) didn’t really tell the story. They still had 30 shots (on goal) and Trey (Augustine) played outstanding on Friday."
Along with Augustine's success between the pipes, the OSU series showed the great skill of freshman forward Gavin O'Connell who netted four goals over the weekend. Freshmen Patrick Geary, Owen Baker and Tommi Männistö also showcased their skills and all three logged their first collegiate goals during the series against Ohio State.
“It speaks to the depth of our program and I think those guys do more than just scoring,” Nightingale said. “They showed up on the scoresheet this weekend. We watch them in practice and they bring competitiveness, they bring speed, they’re hard workers in the weight room and they want to get better.”
Showing depth in their game in Columbus and showcasing the skills of the green and white will help them in the upcoming series, but Penn State, or any Big Ten team will always truthfully bring a challenge.
“They play really hard, and one thing they do a really good job of is they put a lot of pressure on you in the offensive zone, and they do it in a number of different ways,” Nightingale said.
No. 17 ranked Penn State has had a good start to its season, heading to East Lansing with a 5-2-2 record.
The Nittany Lions won an overtime thriller against Notre Dame on Nov. 4 in a shootout, but lost in a shootout the following night to kick off the team's Big Ten Conference play.
This will be their first week back on the road after three consecutive home series where they went 2-2-2.
Penn State also has some highly skilled returning players, including their senior goalie Liam Souliere, who helped the team into the second round of the NCAA Tournament in March 2023, where they suffered an overtime loss to Michigan.
The series will kick off Friday at 7 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena, and the second game of the series will once again be at home Saturday at 4 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena. Both games will be streamed this weekend on Big Ten Plus where you can tune in for the action packed weekend.
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