The Michigan State Spartans men’s hockey team hits the ice tonight to open the regular season with a two-game homestand against the Air Force Academy Falcons. The two-game series will begin tonight at 7 p.m. and Saturday night’s game will also drop the puck at 7 p.m.
This game marks the seventh meeting all-time between the programs. Michigan State is 6-0 against the Falcons, but five of those games in the series occurred between Dec. 28, 1972 and Dec. 8, 1973. The only recent matchup between the programs came in 2011 when the squads met in the 2011 Ice Breaker Tournament in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The Spartans won a 3-2 overtime thriller in that game.
The Falcons are coming off a 10th-place finish in Atlantic Hockey Association last season. The Academy finished 3-10-1 overall, and had a 35-56 goal differential in those 14 games. Atlantic Hockey also played a conference-only slate like the Big Ten did last season.
Air Force is coached by Frank Serratore. He enters his 25th season with the Falcons and boasts a 410-378-93 record. Air Force is coming off a 2-1 exhibition win over Colorado College this past Saturday. The Falcons’ senior goalie, Alex Schilling, made 29 saves in the win. Parker Brown and Jacob Marti both scored a goal for Air Force, and the Falcons blocked 29 shots.
The Spartans, meanwhile, are coming off a 7-18-2 record from last season in a conference-only plus Arizona State slate. MSU finished seventh in the league. However, 18 of Michigan State’s 27 games were decided by two goals or less. The Spartans went 6-12 in those contests and went 4-5 in one-goal games.
Additionally, the Spartans surrendered just 77 goals last season, good for the third-fewest of any team in the league behind Minnesota (51) and Michigan (64). However, Michigan State returns a largely new roster this season. Only five players appeared in all 27 games a year ago — Mitchell Lewandowski, Dennis Cesana, Josh Nodler, and Kyle Haskins all return from that group. Two of those three of those players, Lewandowski and Cesana, along with Drew DeRidder, all garnered All-Big Ten Preseason honorable mention accolades.
Both games this weekend will be available to watch via streaming only on the B1G+ streaming channel.