Penn State news by
Penn State's student blog



Know Your Enemy: No. 11 Penn State Hockey vs. Michigan State

No. 11 Penn State men’s hockey (12-6-2, 4-5-1 Big Ten) will open its home slate for the second half of the season against Michigan State this weekend.

The Nittany Lions and Spartans will battle at 8 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday at Pegula Ice Arena. Friday night’s game will be televised on the Big Ten Network as Penn State debuts its new alternate uniforms.

Michigan State’s 1-6-3 record at Pegula Ice Arena speaks for itself and the Spartans are currently at bottom of the Big Ten standings with 10 points this season.

The Team

Michigan State (6-11-3, 2-6-2 Big Ten) is struggling this season after finishing at the bottom of the conference standings last year.

Head coach Danton Cole’s squad got off to a great start by winning four of its first five games, but everything started to unravel during a six-game losing skid. Michigan State has won just twice since November 3, but one of those victories was a 4-2 decision over Minnesota at Mariucci.

The Spartans’ offensive attack ranks No. 38 in the country with an average of 2.7 goals per game, and the defense ranks 51st out of 60 teams with an average of 3.5 goals against per game.


Center Taro Hirose actually leads the nation in scoring with 31 points this season. Hirose’s 22 assists are the driving force behind his leading point total, and he added nine goals to boot. His line with Patrick Khodorenko and Mitchell Lewandowski is known as the “KHL” line, and it’s back together this season.

Khodorenko’s 12 goals lead the Spartans, and Lewandowski has chipped in six goals and 13 assists through 20 games. The trio of forwards has terrorized Penn State’s defense in the past, and it might have another field day against the Nittany Lions’ No. 54-ranked defense.

The “KHL” line is great, but it’s hard for a team to win with only one line producing consistently. Khodorenko, Hirose, and Lewandowski have combined for 27 of Michigan State’s 54 goals this season.


Michigan State’s defense is coming off its worst weekend of the season against Ohio State. It managed to salvage a 7-7 tie against the Buckeyes on Friday night, but got shellacked again in a 6-0 defeat the following night.

The team’s top defensive scorers this season are Dennis Cesana and Zach Osburn, who have 14 and 10 points, respectively. Jerad Rosburg isn’t far behind with nine points, and he leads the Spartans’ defensive core with a +3 rating in 20 appearances.

In goal, Michigan State has used John Lethemon and Drew DeRidder fairly evenly. Lethemon has a 4-7 record, 3.32 goals-against average, and .897 goals-against average in 11 appearances, while DeRidder’s 2-4-3 record, 3.45 goals-against average, and .898 goals-against average aren’t far behind.

The Spartans struggle to keep the puck out of its own net, which could be a problem against the highest-scoring offense in the nation this weekend.


On paper, Penn State shouldn’t have any problem sweeping Michigan State this weekend. The “KHL” line is dangerous, but Penn State has something that’s apparently eluded the Spartans this year: team depth. I think the Nittany Lions will win 4-1 on Friday night before completing the sweep with a 7-3 shellacking on Saturday.

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

‘There’s No Downside To This’: Char Morett-Curtiss Leading Charge Toward Female Athletic Opportunities

Morett-Curtiss took over the field hockey program and led it for 36 years, highlighted by 541 victories, eight Big Ten regular-season titles, seven Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, 30 NCAA Tournament appearances, and so much more.

No. 15 Penn State Women’s Volleyball Tops Rutgers 3-0 In Big Ten Opener

The Nittany Lions racked up 52 kills en route to their first Big Ten win of the season.

‘We’ve Got To Get Those Guys Touches’: Spreading The Ball Around Key To Penn State Football’s Offensive Strategy

James Franklin believes the answer to the running backs’ struggles is with the passing game.

Follow on Another Platform
Other posts by Mikey

What About The Class Of 2020?

On the heels of concrete plans for the Class of 2021, last year’s seniors still feel hung out to dry.

Dive In: Mikey Mandarino’s Senior Column

Penn State Hockey’s Peyton Jones Signs Two-Year Contract With AHL’s Colorado Eagles