Newcomers finding groove for MSU hockey team


The beginning of a new chapter always warrants an adjustment period.

Whether it’s a new job, moving to a new city or, in the case of MSU hockey (4-8-2 overall, 3-6-1 CCHA), bringing in 12 new players, getting into a groove takes time.

The team’s sitting with a below-average record and some very winnable losses at this point in the season, but everyone must realize how much newness still is trying to adjust to the MSU hockey style of play and an entirely new team.

There’s no questioning the immense amount of talent in this year’s freshman class. It’s definitely not a matter of whether or not the skill level. If it was, the team would be having few issues right now.

Freshman forwards Matt DeBlouw and Michael Ferrantino have made their marks on the Spartan offense, both appearing on the ice for vital plays throughout the 14 games.

DeBlouw sits second on the team in points with four goals and seven assists, behind linemate sophomore forward Matt Berry.

Newcomer defensemen Travis Walsh and John Draeger have been extremely consistent blueliners for MSU, both putting in strong shifts with their experienced partners.

Freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand has been outstanding so far, earning key starts for the Spartans. Junior forward Greg Wolfe said following Friday night’s 1-0 loss to Ohio State that every time Hildebrand is in net, he gives MSU a chance to win.

Once again, the talent level on the Spartan roster is thorough from top to bottom, with many of the 12 new players standing out at the front of the pack. The team still just seems to be searching for that groove.

Head coach Tom Anastos added that he looks at inexperience and youth as two different things in college hockey, and the Spartans currently have both.

“In college hockey today, you can have a young team in age and inexperienced team in class,” he said. “Some teams say they’re young, but they’re old (in age) — they just have inexperienced college players.”

Many collegiate hockey players spend time in junior leagues before playing with a college team, so it’s not unusual to see 24-year-old seniors playing. Conversely, MSU currently has nine players born in 1993 and one player, Connor Wood, born in 1994.

As Anastos stated, there is an inexperience and age gap between the Spartans and many other collegiate teams.

It’s not an excuse for the team’s record. It’s just a valid point to be raised.

Their record is nothing to fret about at this point. MSU has proven the talent is there. They have the ability to win games, but they must continue to search for both an identity and consistency.

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