Michigan State’s men’s ice hockey team faced off against Team USA’s National Team Development Program under-18 squad (NTDP) on Saturday in an exhibition matchup. MSU fell 4-3 in regulation, but there are a lot of positive signs.
First, the student section outdid themselves. One specific thing to note is the fans who did their research on National Team Development Program forward Gabe Perrault, one of two NTDP players who have yet to commit to a Division I university. Fans carried signs saying “Gabe, we want you!” and “Green is your color.”
MSU student section has shown up tonight. pic.twitter.com/JkPBV0D49l— Brad LaPlante (@bradlaplante) October 1, 2022
The Spartans were off to a slow start, which is to be expected considering there are a lot of fresh faces on this team. Team USA’s under-18 team has been playing together for much longer.
One advantage to having so many new faces is that new and older players on the squad can get a fresh slate. Graduate transfer forward Miroslav Mucha was named captain for the season. He’ll follow in the shoes of former Spartan Mitchell Lewandowski. Assistant captains are several defenseman: Cole Krygier, Christian Krygier and Nash Nienhuis.
New faces to the team include Mucha (transfer from Lake Superior State), junior Zach Dubinsky (transfer from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), freshman Tiernan Shoudy, freshman Karsen Dorwart, first-year junior Daniel Russell, freshman Viktor Hurtig, freshman Matt Basgall, senior Justin Jallen (from Brown) and graduate transfer goaltender Dylan St. Cyr (from Quinnipiac), among others.
Those new faces started early. Three of Michigan State’s first five shots were by freshman.
Michigan State was actually the better team for the entire second half of the game. If not for Michigan State tripping its own goaltender in the second period, this game may have went into overtime. Additionally, MSU outshot the NTDP 37-27. The last time MSU hockey outshot the other team was back in February against Notre Dame.
Four of Michigan State’s nine points tonight came from new faces, including a beautiful set-up pass from Russell to feed to Dorwart, who was able to sneak it past NTDP goaltender, and Michigan State commit, Trey Augustine.
Russell ➡️ Dorwart ✅— Brad LaPlante (@bradlaplante) October 2, 2022
Two new faces getting it done. pic.twitter.com/73ab6IlLRI
Shoudy got his first collegiate goal, albeit during an exhibition matchup. To my knowledge, that won’t hold up in the official stat sheet, though, so he’ll have to wait for his first regular season goal to officially net one.
Michigan State attacked the net and Shoudy was in the right spot at the right time.
TOP-SHELF. First collegiate goal for Tiernan Shoudy.— Brad LaPlante (@bradlaplante) October 2, 2022
(not sure if exhibition goals count) pic.twitter.com/hX8gfnNeb1
Plays like these are assuring. Last season, once Michigan State was down by two or more goals, all hope seemed to vanish. Shoudy’s goal where the team crashed the net is a sort of reliance that is fresh to East Lansing.
“I don’t remember what happened after the puck went in,” Shoudy said after the game. “It was kind of just a blackout.”
MSU held the NTDP scoreless in the third period, too. Head coach Adam Nightingale traded out goaltenders to start the third period, replacing St. Cyr with junior Pierce Charleson, who served as Drew DeRidder’s backup last season.
Charleson didn’t allow any goals, but only faced four shots. By comparison, St. Cyr faced 11.5 shots per period. It’s unclear if Nightingale would have switched goaltenders regardless of the score, but in a three-goal deficit, it helped light a spark under that team.
The most productive Michigan State line of the night was one that featured junior Jeremy Davidson, senior Erik Middendorf and Dubinsky. Davidson had seven shots, Middendorf had three and Dubinsky had two. That line was also responsible for allowing two of the NTDP’s four goals, however.
Davidson also had a blast from the top of the right circle to pull MSU within one.
An absolute blast by Jeremy Davidson. pic.twitter.com/shXKqdDKuX— Brad LaPlante (@bradlaplante) October 2, 2022
Another line that impressed was one that featured Shoudy, Nicolas Müller and Jallen. They were responsible for the Shoudy goal that was the result of crashing the net early in the third period.
While Dorwart and Russell played well on their line, one area where Nightingale may mix it up is on that fourth line. Senior Jagger Joshua continued to struggle as he was partially to blame for the NTDP’s fourth goal.
His lack of control also resulted in a cross-checking penalty midway through the third period which hindered on Michigan State’s ability to rally.
Nightingale mentioned after the game that staying out of the box needs to be a priority.
Michigan State did lose to the NTDP by a final score of 4-3. However, I wouldn’t read too much into it as it was an exhibition game. Fans are feeling dreary now after a combination of MSU football’s recent three-game losing streak and the basketball team’s upcoming gauntlet schedule. It doesn’t help that the school’s third most-popular sport (men’s ice hockey) is in the middle of a rebuild.
The Spartans play their first game of the regular season against Bowling Green on Friday (Oct. 7). The team follows up with a road game against Bowling Green on Oct. 8. The only way to really tell how this team will improve is by playing the games.