No. 16 Arizona State (8-4-2) is back on the road this weekend for another top-20 series when the Sun Devils head up to East Lansing to take on No. 18 Michigan State (8-7-1).
ASU swept the Spartans last year in Tempe by finals of 5-4 and 2-0. That team featured Taro Hirose, who is now in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Detroit Red Wings.
Michigan State missed out on last year’s NCAA Tournament, but the Spartans are off to a promising beginning this year under head coach Danton Cole.
The Spartans are 6-3-1 in the Big Ten, and are coming off a two-game sweep over No. 19 Wisconsin last weekend.
MSU sits at No. 18 in the PairWise Rankings, and this weekend’s non-conference series with ASU could aid to their tournament resume as the Sun Devils just slid up to No. 9 in the PairWise after last weekend’s success against No. 8 Denver.
Here are a few more things to know about the series:
What Time/Where to Watch
This weekend’s games are taking place on Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec. 15. The first game begins on Saturday night at 5 p.m. MST, and the second game is slated for 3 p.m. MST.
The games can be viewed on Big Ten Network plus with a login.
And speaking of Sunday games, it would be wise to get accustomed to the format, as ASU’s next four series’ from this weekend on are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
Players to Watch
One of the biggest names to keep an eye on for MSU is one of their veterans in senior Patrick Khodorenko, who has 16 points in 16 games with eight goals and eight assists.
Khodorenko is one of the top players in the Big Ten, and he is flanked by junior forward Mitchell Lewandowski, who has 11 points with five goals and six assists.
Those are the only two players with double-digit point totals, but Michigan State does have a well-rounded roster with 19 different players who have accounted for points.
Between the Pipes
ASU saw Spartan senior goaltender John Lethemon twice last year, and it appears that the Sun Devils have a good shot to see him again. He has been the main man in goal with 14 starts and a 2.01 goals against average.
Lethemon also carries a .941 save percentage. His backup is sophomore Drew DeRidder, who has made three starts and is 0-3 in those matchups with a 3.46 goals against average.
Last year’s series in Tempe was the only meetings between these two programs, and ASU holds the 2-0 advantage all-time.
What coach had to say about the opponent:
Coach Powers: “It’s a really good team that we are going to go play. They’ve been a handful for everyone that they’ve played. They are building a really good program in only his third year. We got our work cut out for us. They are big, they are fast, they’re heavy, and they play hard.”
-Road Warriors. It’s the nickname that ASU can be deemed over the holidays. The Sun Devils are the only college hockey team in the nation to play every weekend from now until the New Year.
All of ASU’s games are on the road, with series’ coming against Michigan State, Nebraska-Omaha, and Harvard (this series will be played in Anaheim).
None of the team’s players will be traveling back home for the holidays, and the stretch will round out a grueling portion of the schedule.
“We are excited for it. It’s been awhile since we have been out on the road,” said Powers of the month of December. “With the lay-off that we had after Alaska and with two straight home weekends, it’s been over a month. Guys are excited to get out on the road...We look at it as an opportunity to continue to do some great team-building, and be really ramped up going into January.”