Tom Anastos said he felt like he was back in the old days Saturday night at Munn Ice Arena.
Adorned in throwback script uniforms, the MSU hockey team (4-5-1 overall, 3-3-0 CCHA) took the ice against rival Michigan in front of an energetic, record-breaking crowd, defeating the Wolverines 7-2.
Anastos, the second-year head coach, listed off the sweaters, atmosphere, student involvement, energy and all-around rivalry intensity as what gave the arena a different feeling that night.
“I think it was electric, and I think that the players fed off of that,” Anastos said. “It’s an important part of having a successful team. We talk about making sure we go out and give the kind of effort that the people who come to watch us can take pride in.”
A record 7,225 fans packed into Munn Ice Arena Saturday night. The previous attendance record was set in 2001 with 7,121 fans.
Brynne Ewing, biomedical laboratory science sophomore and co-director of the A-Team — MSU hockey’s student section — said she joined the student section last year, but Saturday’s game was louder than any Munn game she’s been to before.
Sophomore forward Brent Darnell attested to Ewing’s statement, who noted the increased fan involvement.
“We really wanted to get a good start,” Darnell said.“We knew it was probably going to be a sold-out crowd. It was a great turnout from our students, and we definitely fed off the energy from the crowd as well.”
Freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand said the large crowd gave him support on Saturday night and helped him play through any mistakes that he felt he might have made.
Both the A-Team, formerly known as the Slapshots, and the hockey team hope to see continued involvement as the season progresses. Ewing said the A-Team recently implemented an attendance tracker at games, and rewards will be given to those with the best attendance.
“I just want to see numbers keep growing,” she said. “This year compared to last year, numbers have been increasing every single week, and I’d love to see that continue to grow.”
In the season home-opening Niagara series, Munn held 4,063 people the first half of the series and 4,602 people he second. The next time the Spartans came home, 4,641 people came out to watch MSU play Bowling Green.
“Our goal is to make ourselves hopefully fun enough to follow and to be a part of,” Anastos said. “I look at it as to be a part of because that crowd had a huge impact on the performance of our team … our players really appreciate it.
“We have to give people a reason to do that every single night.”