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Men’s Hockey: No. 15 Ohio State faces top Big Ten goaltender at Michigan State

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Ohio State graduate forward Eric Cooley (27) fights off defenders during the Ohio State-Michigan State game on Saturday, Oct. 30. Ohio State won 5-1. Credit: Gabe Haferman | Assistant Photo Editor

No. 15 Ohio State hits the road this weekend for a two-game series in East Lansing, Michigan, against the unranked Michigan State Spartans.

On paper, a matchup between the Buckeyes (16-7-1) and the Spartans (11-12-1) is nothing to write home about. However, Michigan State is much more than its record.

Michigan State’s senior goaltender Drew Deridder leads the Big Ten in save percentage, turning opponents away 93.7 percent of the time. Deridder also ranks third in the conference for goals against average, allowing 2.29 per game.

Deridder is listed on Michigan State’s roster at 5-foot-11. The only goalie in the conference shorter than Deridder is Minnesota’s junior netminder Justen Close, who stands at 5-foot-10. Ohio State senior forward Quinn Preston said Deridder’s smaller stature was something of which he and the Buckeyes are looking to take advantage.

“He’s a smaller goalie so I think getting guys in front of him will really help us,” Preston said. “The more saves he has to make, the harder it is for him.”

Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik said succeeding on special teams was another important part of the Buckeyes’ weekend game plan.

“We’ve got to win the special teams battle both nights,” Rohlik said. “I think if we can do that, it’s going to give us a chance.”

The last time Ohio State allowed a power-play goal was Jan. 8 at Wisconsin. Since then, the Buckeyes have gone 12-for-12 on the penalty kill.

Ohio State played two games against Michigan State Oct. 29-30, 2021, in Columbus. The Buckeyes lost the first game 2-1, but won the next night in decisive fashion, 5-1.

Friday’s game between the Buckeyes and the Spartans is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. The puck will drop an hour earlier Saturday at 6 p.m. Both games of this weekend’s series will air on Big Ten Network Plus.

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