Following a 3-0 loss to the U.S. U-18 National Team Development Program, the MSU hockey locker room was filled with tension.
Despite being an exhibition loss, the Spartans (6-15-3 overall, 5-12-1-0 CCHA) loss to the U.S. was as frustrating as any, and it was apparent the players felt that way after the game.
“The compete level wasn’t there, the dedication wasn’t there, the commitment wasn’t there,” senior forward Anthony Hayes said. “We just turned over and we just let them take the play to us. It’s something that we can’t allow to happen.”
After a scoreless first period, U.S. was the first to put a tally on the board. In the second period, Evan Allen passed the puck off to Will Butcher in the MSU zone, who struck a wrister into the net.
Later in that period, U.S.‘s Kevin Labanc netted another goal after he skated the puck up the left side and found the back of the net.
Anthony Louis got the third and final goal for the U.S., beating MSU senior defenseman Matt Grassi, carrying the puck up close to the crease and burying it.
“I thought they’re a skilled team, especially that third goal; that was a really good play,” captain and junior forward Greg Wolfe said.
“They move the puck pretty well. I thought when we were on our game, when we were playing physical, they couldn’t really hang with us. It just wasn’t a 60-minute thing for us tonight.”
Both teams shared a fair amount of pleasantries throughout the game — MSU racked up nine penalties, and U.S. had five.
MSU sophomore forward Matt Berry was ejected from the game and will miss Friday’s game against Penn State following late roughing after the whistle and checking from behind calls against him.
While head coach Tom Anastos said he was disappointed in some of the penalties the team took, he found the biggest disappointment to be MSU’s inability to execute simple plays.
“Simple things: a 10-foot pass, making the pass, catching the pass, being strong, getting the puck out of the danger zone, picking up a guy coming back, especially with the puck,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s skill, I don’t know if it’s a combination of skill and concentration and focus.”
Although there were few positives to come out of Tuesday night’s exhibition, two players were able to take the ice in their Spartan jerseys for the first time and get their feet wet.
Because it was an exhibition game, MSU was able to dress more than the the normal 18 skaters, and took the opportunity to get freshman forward Connor Wood and freshman defenseman Brock Krygier in the lineup.
“Hopefully they felt it was a good opportunity to get out there and get some experience and assess where they are along the developmental process,” Anastos said. “They’re working real hard, and we brought them in with a specific plan and we’re pleased with the progress we’re seeing so far.”