The MSU men’s hockey team wasted no time making an impression this season.
In fact, it took exactly ten seconds.
The puck barely had dropped when the Spartans took possession and senior forward Kevin Walrod snuck the puck past Windsor goaltender Matt Murphy, setting the tone for what would end up being a 6-1 exhibition game.
“I kind of got the monkey off the back early,” Walrod said. “We have 12 new guys, we didn’t know what we were going to be like … if we’re going to be able to score and what not. I think that just helped the guys feel easy, get into the game and get into a groove.”
Windsor rebounded early in the second period, sniping one past junior goaltender Will Yanakeff straight into the MSU net with just under 15 minutes left in the second, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Spartans.
“It was great to see all the guys play the way they did,” Hayes said. “It was great to see the the effort, all the intensity, everybody competed well. There was no part of the game where we held back and we played to maintain a lead. That’s something I’ll take from the game and I was happy to see.”
The third period continued to play out in MSU’s favor.
Freshman defender Travis Walsh wanted a piece of the action, picking up his first collegiate goal and MSU’s sixth and final. Freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand also had the opportunity to get his feet wet, taking over for Yanakeff at the beginning of the period.
Overall, head coach Tom Anastos said he’s looking at the game as an evaluation of his team’s strengths and weaknesses.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Anastos said. “I saw lots of good things and I saw lots of stuff that gave me pause that we’re going to have to work on, particularly if we’re going to want to play at a very high level. It probably gave us pause in areas that we anticipated. It confirmed some of the things we were thinking and I think it also showed that some of the things we’re trying to implement from a cultural standpoint are kind of taking root, which I’m really happy with.”
Anastos said that cultural value is the expectation to be competing at a championship level every season, regardless of how many new players make up the roster. He added it’s going to take some work to get the team to a level they will be comfortable with.
MSU opens up the regular season Friday at Minnesota at 7:05 p.m, in a game which Hayes said the team will need to take a big step forward to be able to compete.