Hockey Preview: Michigan State

Audio/Story posted January 12, 2017 in CommRadio, Sports by Sports Staff


Joe Murphy, Brian McLaughlin and Zach Kaplan look at this weekend's matchup between the Nittany Lions and the visiting Michigan State Spartans. You can listen to both games at 


After a month-long hiatus, Penn State will return to the Pegula Ica Arena for a home series against Michigan State. The Nittany Lions are off to their best start in their brief program history, entering this weekend as the No. 4 team in the USCHO poll. Guy Gadowsky’s team split its series with No. 9 Ohio State in Columbus last weekend.

These two teams are trending divergently at the moment. Penn State is off to a 14-2 start (3-1 B1G), while Michigan State is 4-13-1 (0-4 B1G). Penn State ranks first in the conference in goals scored and goals allowed, while Michigan State is last in both categories.

Penn State has been terrific on the defensive end so far this season. This area was a point of emphasis for Gadowsky prior to the 2016-17 campaign. The Lions have always been elite offensively, but their defense has finally caught up this season, as they are now statistically the second-ranked defensive team in the nation.

Kevin Kerr, Trevor Hamilton and Erik Autio have all made major contributions on the back line, while Peyton Jones has been remarkable in net for a freshman. Jones is saving nearly 92 percent of the opponents’ shots, which is good for 18th nationally.

Up front, the Nittany Lions come into this weekend as the second-highest scoring team in college hockey. One of the staples for their offensive potency has been their tremendous depth. Touted freshman Denis Smirnov, despite his struggles against Ohio State, sits at 11th in the country in points scored. Standout sophomore Andrew Sturtz is also the 12th leading goal scorer in college hockey, while senior captain David Goodwin is 25th in assists.

Outside of Sturtz and Smirnov, the Penn State scoring is very balanced. A total of 17 other Nittany Lions have scored this season, while Dylan Richard, Nate Sucese, Chase Berger, and Vince Pedrie have all found the back of the net at least five times. Nikita Pavlychev, Brandon Biro, and Liam Folkes are also dangerous with the puck.

The Spartans’ two top point-scorers are Mason Appleton (17) and Taro Hirose (11). Five other players have eclipsed nine points on the season, so depth has been a plus. Ed Minney will start in the net, with an 88 percent save rate this season.

Penn State is the far superior team in this matchup, and after being away from home for an entire month, expect them to come out with an abundance of energy. We’re beginning to enter the heart of Big Ten play, so anything can happen, but on paper this one looks like an easy sweep for the Nittany Lions.


Will Desautelle is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email

About the Contributors

Joe Esquivel-Murphy's photo

Joe Esquivel-Murphy

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a senior from Bay Head, NJ, majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. He has done play-by-play and beat writes for almost all the sports from CommRadio.  His two talk shows, Murph’s Lounge and Road to Russia, covered various different topics as the later previewed the qualification process to the World Cup with the former discussing relevant sports events. Joe also had an internship for Shore Sports Network (an affiliate of Town Square Media) before his junior year. To contact Joe, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Will Desautelle's photo

Will Desautelle

Junior / Broadcast Journalism and Political Science

Will Desautelle is a junior from Washington Crossing, PA. majoring in broadcast journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. He is very involved in writing, broadcasting, and producing for numerous Penn State sports teams. For the last two years, he has worked for Penn State Athletics as a feature writer for the Penn State women’s and men’s volleyball teams. Last summer, Will interned at State College Magazine and was a reporter and play-by-play broadcaster for the State College Spikes. He has also worked as a feature writer for and has studied abroad in Guatemala. He has written for Armchair All-Americans, covering Penn State football. Outside of CommRadio, he is a member of the Penn State Men’s Club Volleyball team and is a member of the THON Communications Committee. One day Will hopes to become a sports writer or reporter for a national sports network. You can contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on Twitter @wdesautelle.

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Brian McLaughlin

Sophomore / Broadcast Journalism

Brian McLaughlin is a sophomore working in CommRadio as a member of the sports staff. He is a Play-by-Play voice for many Penn State sports for CommRadio and especially enjoys calling baseball and football. Brian has also been a writer and podcast host for every major Penn State sport. Other relevant journalism experience comes from an intern with as a beat writer for Penn State Women’s Basketball. In the future, he hopes to work as a Play-by-Play announcer for a professional baseball team.

Zach Kaplan's photo

Zach Kaplan

Freshman / Broadcast Journalism

Zach Kaplan is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. He has helped provide weekly coverage of Penn State football and men’s hockey during the fall semester. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or find him on Twitter at @Zach_Kaplan5.