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Michigan State Spartans vs No. 9 Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s ice hockey preview

Michigan State is looking to stay hot in a big conference matchup.

Michigan State v Massachusetts-Lowell Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

The Michigan State Spartans (11-8-1) host No. 9/11 Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-8) this weekend as MSU looks to build off of its momentum from the Great Lakes Invitational.

Freshman defenseman David Gucciardi made a splash at the 2021 GLI. He contributed 75 percent of the Spartans’ offense in both games against No. 3 Western Michigan and No. 20 Michigan Tech, including the game-winning goal in overtime against the Huskies. For the effort, he was named the Big Ten’s First Star of the Week.

Thee three goals accounted for Gucciardi’s second, third, and fourth goals of the season.

Senior goaltender Drew DeRidder started both games in the Great Lakes Invitational, so sophomore Pierce Charleson may get some ice time this weekend. DeRidder was honored with his second Big Ten First Star of the Week last month after a shutout performance against Notre Dame.

Charleson has also been praised this season, mainly for his 50-save effort against Wisconsin earlier in the campaign. It was a nice bounce-back game for him since allowing seven goals to Michigan.

Fifth-year senior forward Mitchell Lewandowski hobbled off of the ice against Michigan Tech. Lewandowski being out could seriously hurt the Spartans. Michigan State went 1-4 when Lewandowski was out with injury earlier in the season. MSU has a tough road ahead: playing four games against Minnesota, Michigan once on the road and once in Detroit at Little Caesars Arena, Ohio State at home and Notre Dame at home.

Both games against Minnesota this weekend will be at Munn Ice Arena and air on Big Ten Network. Friday’s game will be played at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time and Saturday’s game will be played at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

For those going to Michigan State’s games against Minnesota, expect to arrive with proof-of-vaccination or a print-out of a negative COVID-19 test, along with a photo ID, prior to entry.

Michigan State is not ranked in the USCHO top-20 or USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine top-15, but the Spartans have received votes in the USCHO poll for the last several weeks. This week, MSU received 21 votes, and would-be No. 22 in the latest poll.