Spartans look to rebound in second half of season
Freshman defenseman John Draeger battles Ferris State center Cory Kane for possession of the puck Jan. 5, 2013 at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich. The Bulldogs beat the Spartans 3-0. Julia Nagy/The State News
Despite what the record might say, Chris Forfar said the MSU hockey team is better than the numbers show.
About halfway through the 2012-13 season, there might not be much interpretation to take out of the team’s 5-12-3 overall record, with a showing of 4-9-1-0 in the CCHA.
Given where they stand now, the odds might not be in MSU’s favor heading into the latter part of the season, but Forfar, the senior forward, and the Spartans seem anxious to turn over a new leaf.
“I just think the things that we can control are how hard we work and the attitude that we can bring to the rink,” Forfar said. “If we keep working hard like we are everyday, good things are bound to happen.”
MSU kicked off the season with a 4-5-1 record throughout the first 10 games, the most notable win of those being a 7-2 win over Michigan in front of a record crowd at Munn Ice Arena.
In that game, sophomore forward Matt Berry had a standout performance, putting up his first career hat trick.
His offensive output for the Spartans has been notable, scoring more than twice as many goals (11) as the next leading scorers on the team, sophomore forwards Brent Darnell and Tanner Sorenson (5).
Since defeating the Wolverines, however, it appears MSU has fallen off, only winning one of the next 10 matches.
Throughout the last 10 games, the Spartans are 1-7-2, allowed 25 goals against and scored 12.
“We’ve gained experience in the first half of the season, and we are a youthful team,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “We have to keep looking for ways to find solutions, get better results. In the end, you want your team to get better. You want your guys to gain experience, but you’re still seeking results, and results matter. Until we find better results, we’re going to keep trying different things.”
With 17 regular season matchups remaining, MSU has lost to every CCHA opponent it has faced at least once, aside from Western Michigan, whom the Spartans tied in the Great Lakes Invitational.
The opponents MSU has taken the ice against should not be looked at lightly. So far, the Spartans have played seven teams ranked in the nation’s top 20 in team defense for a total 13 games. Of those games, nine were against teams ranked in the top eight.
But the coaching staff and players are not making excuses, rather keeping a positive mindset heading into the second half of the season.
“It’s a long season,” Forfar said. “There’s going to be no easy games. Each team in the CCHA is strong defensively and they have strong forwards and goaltenders. It’s going to be a battle and hopefully we can battle harder than the rest of the teams and come out with a good record. I have all the confidence in the world we can perform well the rest of the season.”
The Spartans spent a majority of last semester on the road, with 13 of 20 games being at a rink other than Munn Ice Arena. Of those games, MSU is 2-9-2, and this coming weekend against Notre Dame will be MSU’s third two-game home series this season.
With the majority of remaining games on home ice, Darnell has more on his mind than just winning games — he wants to help initiate a culture change.
“What coach wants to do is make a culture where it’s hard for teams that come in here and play,” he said.
“When we go down to Notre Dame, we know what to expect from them, and we need to build that here: (When) teams come into our building, it’s going to be hell for them to play here.”