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Sparky vs. Sparty Returns to the Ice in East Lansing

Nov 18, 2020

Game Notes | Watch Thursday

Preview by Riley Trujillo, Sun Devil Athletics Intern
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The Sun Devils remain in Michigan as they continue their 22-day road trip to faceoff against Michigan State Thursday and Friday for the third consecutive year. ASU (0-2-0) currently leads the series with a 3-1-0 record against the Spartans.

Both games will be played at 6 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. MT with Thursday's game broadcasted on the Big Ten Network and Friday's game available via subscription on BTN+.

"They're very well structured, they're always above the puck," said head coach Greg Powers of Michigan State. "They're not easy to generate transition on, but we seem to matchup with how they play pretty well. They're going to have a good team, they're well coached. No game is going to be easy… we knew what we were getting into when we agreed to do (the schedule) and we'll just focus on getting one back Thursday."

Scouting the Spartans

MSU's roster will look a bit different from the last time these two teams met, as they welcome 10 new players to their roster for the 2020-21 season. After losing nearly half of their top scorers to graduation, nine new freshmen and one graduate student will join the Spartan squad. Two of the top three point producers will return for MSU, including senior forward Mitchell Lewandowski and junior defenseman Dennis Cesana, who were All Big Ten honorable mention and second team, respectively. 

Lewandowski is currently ranked second in goals among NCAA active career leaders with 43, only behind ASU's Johnny Walker with 60. Lewandowski is also ranked ninth in total points among active leaders with 88 and has scored a minimum of 20 points in each of his three seasons as a spartan. Graduate transfer forward Charlie Combs currently holds the 10th highest career total among all players in the NCAA entering the season after scoring 36 goals with Bemidji State in three years.

Michigan State finished the 2019-20 season with 15 wins, the most as a program since 2014-2015.

Looking Ahead

The Sun Devils didn't get the hot start they wanted in Ann Arbor, as the No. 6 Wolverines -- who received one vote as the No. 1 team in the country -- outscored ASU 11-1 in the weekend series. After a tough 8-1 loss in game one, the Sun Devils fought tooth-and-nail in a close game down to the end in game two, but couldn't find a chink the armor of Michigan goaltender Strauss Mann. 

The Sun Devil freshmen shined in the opening weekend, as all five made their collegiate debuts with forward Ryan O'Reilly netting his first goal in his first NCAA game. Linemate Matthew Kopperud earned his first point with an assist on the goal. Meanwhile, goaltender Cole Brady made 44 saves in game two on 47 shots for the most saves by a rookie in his debut in program history. 

Game Notes:

  • Freshman goaltender Cole Brady made 44 saves in his NCAA debut, setting a program record for most saves by a goalie in his first collegiate start. Former Sun Devil and current AHL goaltender Joey Daccord held the previous record of 42 in his debut against then-No. 9 Notre Dame. 
  • Brady's 44 saves tied the season-high of saves in a game set by Evan DeBrouwer twice during the 2019-20 season. It ties for the most saves made in a game since Joey Daccord made 45 against No. 17 Cornell on Jan. 11, 2019. 
  • The Sun Devils were shut out last weekend for the first time since a 1-0 overtime loss at then-No. 18 Michigan State on Dec. 15, 2019.
  • The Sun Devils never lost more than two games in a row during the 2019-20 season, and were only swept twice (at #3 Minnesota State, at Wisconsin).