Michigan State Spartan Hockey Starts Slow and A Fast Finish Can’t Catch the Wolverines

Hondo S. Carpenter

Yost Ice Arena

Ann Arbor, MI

The Michigan State Spartans came into this season with low expectations. They were rebuilding under a new coach. I said five hundred was a realistic goal for the season record. Coming into this big two game series with their archrivals the Spartans had risen to 14th in the national polls with a record of 10-5-1.

The Spartans were victims of a slow start tonight. Slow may not be the best description because they played hard. Perhaps it would be better to say they played hard, but made some sloppy mistakes. Tom Anastos said, “We did a poor job handling the puck in the neutral zone…we had a lot of turnovers.” 

The Wolverines outscored the Spartans 4-1 after two periods and had a shots on goal (SOG) advantage of 24-20. The clear national coach of the year candidate, MSU head man Tom Anastos said afterwards, “No quit in our team. I never doubted that one second. We didn’t play our game for two periods. We made lot’s of turnovers and they thrived on that.” The Spartans finished with a SOG advantage of 34-27.

The Spartans came out very aggressive and those that understand hockey know the cousin of aggressive hockey is poor defense and sloppy puck handling. Since it is the holiday season, perhaps that relative showed up for sure. Anastos added, “We are not good enough to step on the ice and expect to win.”

Sophomore goalie Will Yanakeff got the start tonight, his first at Yost. He said of his team’s slow start, “The first two periods were kind of rough, we didn’t compete as hard.”

As tough as the game looked for the first two periods the third was a different story. MSU came out in the power play and scored immediately. They were on fire and I suspect had their tails torn from a fired up speech from the head man we at Spartan Nation affectionately call, “The Stache!” 

Coach Anastos said of his team’s third period fight, “We created a lot of good chances. Our guys played hard.” Senior captain Trevor Nill who didn’t have a lot in the stats column, but played well added, “Biggest thing in the third period is that we made their defense go back for the puck and we put some hits on them.”

Yanakeff (Yanni) added of the third period energy, “We came out with a different attitude in the third period.” I would agree with him.

With chants of, “Little Brother,” and “B.C.S.” reigning down from the capacity crowd of over 7,000 tonight at Yost the series now shifts to Munn arena for a Saturday night tilt. The puck drops at the game at 6:35 P.M.

The Spartan Nation has a reason to be there, be proud and be loud. This coach has made an amazing impact on a program with essentially the same players. He said that one thing can be carried over with a quick turnaround for the game on Saturday, “Don’t forget anything about this game tonight. Remember what helps us and what doesn’t.”

The Spartans record may take one in the loss column from this game, but where this team sits right now is nothing short of amazing. Even not playing well the first two periods this team passed, checked and played hard. All things as a fan you have a right to expect and you are getting.

With emotions high I can’t wait for them to lace up the skates, pull out the home sweaters and get it on at Munn. The Spartans didn’t play well for two periods and barley lost on this night. Tomorrow this team, this coach and this reporter expect a different story. So should you.

See you at Munn.

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