First before diving in to the hockey coverage this week let me apologize for the lack of a Penn State wrap-up and Wisconsin preview this past week. Grad school came with a vengeance on the final week of classes and I was buried in my living room pulling all nighters like I was in undergrad again. I hope the fine people of The Only Colors understand as I am the only hockey contributor, that unfortunately school took precedence last week.
With that out of the way let's take a look at Michigan State hockey hosting the Wisconsin Badgers at Munn Arena, a team they should surely sweep right? Well I was able to make my first visit to Munn Arena on Saturday for the afternoon game leading in to the basketball game hosting Florida and as I walked with my fiancee to Crunchy's after the game these were my thoughts:
The Spartans, who had an energetic and frustration relieving win on Friday night, took all that positive energy and came out absolutely flat Saturday.
5 Weekend Takeaways
- Freshman and Depth Scoring- Freshman Brennan Sanford (1G, 1A), Zach Osburn (2A) and senior Justin Hoomaian (Game winning goal) provided a spark Friday night as the Spartans won 4-3 ending a 7 game winless streak. On a night where the top lines were shut down and the team garnered just one power play opportunity it was exciting to see the Spartans show some offensive depth.
- Bad Luck- The Spartans did themselves no favors with their effort in creating luck Saturday but the bounces were definitely not breaking their way. They came close on a couple of backdoor passing plays only to have the chance miss because of a puck not settling down. The slide in the second period began when Wisconsin scored the game's first goal with a pass attempt that went off a Spartan defenders' skate and past Jake Hildebrand.
- Defensive MIstakes- After finally seeing a game live it is easy to see why Jake Hildebrand's numbers have taken a hit this season. The Badgers second goal came off of a terrible turnover in the slot by freshman defenseman Osburn and Hildebrand appeared frustrated most of the day. The Spartans really miss Josh Jacobs on the blue line.
- Munn Improvements- I will give the improvements an overall B+. I think the video board is too big and makes Munn look smaller than it already is, the new scoreboards however are awesome. They are so much clearer to read and having them in all four corners is great. The new boards look nice enough, except the glass still looks too new and plastic, but that mark down is mainly for nostalgic reasons.
- Lack of energy- Multiple times this season coach Tom Anastos has said his team was not mentally prepared to play after a loss. I believe that captain Michael Ferrantino is a fiery leader so the defect must be coming from some place else, but either way this team needs to find what makes it want to play hockey at a high level. Before puck drop Saturday the Badgers, who also were playing on a short rest, were up banging their sticks, they were throwing checks, chirping players, they just plain showed they wanted to be there. The Spartans however coasted for two full periods and brought effort when they were already down 3-0.
Too many guys didn’t bring the level of intensity we have to have to play every game. It’s maddening...You’re at home, it’s your last game before the Christmas break so why does it take to the third period to get that energy level?
-Tom Anastos as told to Neil Koepke of MSUSpartans.com.
Around the B1G
Michigan flexed their offense muscle defeating Minnesota 8-3 at Yost on Friday night before falling 3-2 on Saturday. Penn State played a single non-conference game defeating Princeton 6-3.
The Spartans women's basketball, men's basketball and ice hockey teams will all travel to Boston, Mass. this weekend to take on the Northeastern Huskies. The hockey game is the final of the three taking place Saturday at 7:00 P.M. broadcast nationally on NBC Sports Network.