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Hockey: #8 Boston College 3 Michigan State 2

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Spartan hockey gets close again but couldn't pull out a close one at home

J. Meric

The tenets of a Tom Anastos team are still there. Giving up the body to block shots, finishing the third period strong and keeping games close. Unfortunately on nights when Jake Hildebrand isn't awesome, the offense isn't able to cover up those mistakes. Especially when playing a goaltender like Thatcher Demko from Boston College, who may be the best goaltender in college hockey.

It was about as bad a start as one could imagine with the Eagles taking the lead less than one minute into the first period. Zach Sanford scored on a net scramble with Hildebrand unable to cover the puck. (Going off twitter accounts since in 2014 MSU, a B1G school streams less games online than Michigan Tech). The Eagles would stretch the lead to 2-0 on a goal by Matthew Gaudreau. Michigan State would claw back before the end of the period when Michael Ferrantino took a cross ice pass from Joe Cox and one-timed it past Demko.

The second period only featured one goal, a Boston College goal from Quinn Smith. From the radio broadcast it sounded like Hildebrand was fighting the puck and should have covered the puck. It also sounded like the puck was changing directions from hitting Eagle players but again, no TV coverage. The Spartans won both the second and third period shots on goal and pulled within one on Matt DeBlouw's second goal of the season. I have always been a big fan of DeBlouw and am glad to see a 3rd line may be developing with him centering.

The Spartans pulled Hildebrand and had good chances at the end of the game but could not solve Demko. The Spartans drop to 3-6 on the season after playing an extremely difficult out of conference slate. They probably deserve to be 5-4 but need to get more well rounded to consistently win.

Looking back at the 3 keys to success

  1. Get a 2 goal lead- Obviously didn't happen. Needed a quick start and didn't get it. Hildebrand has been stellar for two years so I won't worry yet but this team needs a little better from him.
  2. Stay out of the box- 1 power play chance for the Eagles and the Spartans killed it off. However, on four power play opportunities the Spartans were unsuccessful. They had scored in three games in a row on the power play.
  3. Take advantage of the few chances you get- No possession numbers yet. The game was even in shots almost with the Eagles holding a 34-33 edge.
Feelings on Anastos
I know that not everyone follows college hockey as closely as I do. I know many look at wins and losses and don't delve too much further into it than that. Which I get it, MSU is a hell of a basketball and football school, college hockey isn't exactly all over TV and hockey isn't a favorite sport of many. But the constant call for Anastos' head before B1G play has even begun in year 4 is pretty short sighted. Hockey rebuilds (and make no mistake this was a massive rebuild after the end of the Comley reign) take 5-6 years. The top level recruits make their college commitments at age 14-16. Meaning that many top kids when Anastos was hired have just gotten to campus in the last two seasons. He was behind on those kids and has two strong classes lined up over the next two seasons. The worst thing he did was overachieve his first season and make the NCAA tournament with a team that had no business being there. This is a long term plan and the talent is coming. In my opinion it still remains to be seen how talent develops, but I look at the junior teams this roster is made up of and here's the truth, Anastos gets a lot out of what he has. He has adjusted systems to be more defensive and emphasized shot blocking, because Comley commitments that he honored are not high end talents. Mark Hollis, who made a risky hire in the first place, will probably give Anastos at least one more season. So let's see how things play out in a down B1G before turning every series into a referendum on the program.
Around the B1G
Penn State played up a level from where they have been and were beat at UMass-Lowell 5-3. Michigan eased up on toughness play an over-matched American International and winning 5-2. At time of posting there is seven minutes remaining in the third and #13 Minnesota-Duluth is beating #1 Minnesota 3-0. At the start of the 3rd period #19 Bowling Green is beating Ohio State 1-0. The B1G is going to be wide open guys, let the season play out.
Next Up
The Spartans play a Thursday-Friday road series at Ohio State. This is a series that they must at least split to want to get a good start on finishing top three in the league. Thursday night's game will be on the Big Ten Network.

Enjoy basketball tonight and football tomorrow. Go Green!