With losses aplenty for the MSU hockey team, Tom Anastos holds to the belief that his team doesn’t lose because of a lack of effort.
The head coach believes the Spartans (6-15-3 overall, 5-12-1-0 CCHA ) are failing to convert games into wins because of a lack of execution.
He said when players are frustrated, it’s a tendency to try to do more and make things happen on the ice.
“The lack of execution, I thought, was a sign of frustration,” Anastos said. “Whether you’re a young team or an experienced team — maybe experienced teams have a higher threshold or are able to fight through that frustration. I think we have to learn to do that.”
MSU was swept last weekend by Ferris State, 2-1 Friday and 5-2 Saturday. The latest disappointment for MSU came Tuesday evening, when the Spartans lost 3-0 in an exhibition game against the U.S. U-18 National Team Development Program.
Anastos referred to that night as “a high point of frustrations,” and that feeling of frustration is felt up and down the roster.
“We aren’t getting the results that we want to see right now, but I don’t think it’s from a lack of effort,” freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand said. “Sometimes less is more; so that’s what I try to do. I try not to think about too much stuff because when you start worrying, that’s definitely not what you want.”
While explaining the difference between little effort and little execution, Anastos cited certain plays from Tuesday night.
He said a Spartan would skate by a U.S. player, and instead of picking that player up on the backcheck, they would race to the puck.
“That wasn’t because they weren’t working hard, it’s maybe because you lost a little focus on what your assignment is because you’re trying so hard to make something happen,” he said. “Those are the small details, but when you get in that rut when your confidence is not where you want it to be, you’re always trying to do a little bit more.”
Even after losing six of the last seven matchups, senior forward Chris Forfar maintains a level of confidence in the team.
He said the team has proven what they can do, they just have to perform every night.
“We know our skill set, we know what we can do,” Forfar said. “The team is still highly confident. We know we can score goals. We erupted in the Michigan game (7-2), we erupted versus Bowling Green (6-1) — we know it’s there. We just need to go out and execute.”
Moving forward, the point of emphasis for Anastos and his staff will be simplicity — simple passes, simple plays, simple looks.
Forfar said when the goals aren’t coming, it’s easy for players to grab their sticks a little tighter, hold on to the puck too long, or make too fancy a play. Although it might seem counterintuitive, Forfar said the simple plays will help MSU win games, and Anastos agrees.
“Our effort overall has been pretty good,” Anastos said. “What’s been compounding is a level of frustration — which is causing a focus change — which is one of the details of the game that you have to do to be good. And that comes with simplicity.”