Senior icers kiss Munn Ice Arena goodbye
From left, senior forward Kevin Walrod and senior defenseman Matt Grassi celebrate after scoring a goal on Monday night, Oct. 8, 2012, at Munn Ice Arena. MSU defeated Windsor, 6-1in the first and only exhibition game. Adam Toolin/The State News
They started as nine in 2009; they’ve since dwindled to four.
Chris Forfar, Matt Grassi, Anthony Hayes and Kevin Walrod came to MSU hockey as part of a nine-man freshmen class, but are the only remaining seniors. Since the time they stepped on campus, the four have become close friends and roommates, and soon will go their separate ways as their last days as Spartans quickly approach.
“All three of them are my best friends — I can truthfully say that,” Hayes said. “We’ve been close since our freshman year, it hasn’t really had to develop. We hit it off right away.”
Through the years, their friendship has come as a product of not only hockey, but time spent together in the classroom. Forfar and Hayesare both finance majors, and Grassi and Walrod, who came to East Lansing from western Canada, both are studying advertising.
“They always have my back, since day one, (and) I’ve had theirs,” Walrod said. “I know that when this is all said and done, we’ll be contacting each other probably weekly.”
Senior right wing Anthony Hayes collects a pass in the Spartans' defensive zone Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Western Michigan defeated the Spartans 2-1 with an overtime victory during the first game of the Great Lakes Invitational. Adam Toolin/The State News
Senior forward Kevin Walrod skates the puck up the ice in the face of Michigan's defense Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Wolverines defeated the Spartans, 5-2, in the second game of the weekend series. Adam Toolin/The State News
Senior forward Chris Forfar, right, celebrates his first period goal with redshirt freshman Justin Hoomaian, No. 24, next to him. The Buckeyes defeated the Spartans, 3-1, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012, at Munn Ice Arena. Justin Wan/The State News
Those four — along with senior forward Dean Chelios, who is redshirting this season — are the only current Spartans to win a Great Lakes Invitational title (2009). They also are the only players on the roster to sweep Michigan — a moment they noted as a favorite.
Forfar, Grassi, Hayes and Walrod will be honored alongside Zach Golembiewski during a pregame ceremony Saturday in the second half of a weekend series against Western Michigan. Golembiewski isn’t rostered because a medical condition found in his back last season forced him to retire, but is part of this year’s senior class.
The seniors might be feeling the normal emotions of time flying by too fast, and a few mentioned the rush of emotions they’re expecting in weeks to come.
“It seems like yesterday I was wide-eye and nervous,” Forfar said. “It’s been lightening speed for four years. If I could do anything, I’d want to be 19 years old, 20 years old again and go through freshman year welcome week with all the guys and experience that again.”
Forfar: He will graduate in May. He has accepted a summer internship with the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan, but isn’t necessarily putting hockey on the back burner yet.
Grassi: He has a few more classes to take this summer, and he said he would love to play hockey overseas, but can’t see himself making a career out of it.
Hayes: He has two classes left to take, but is taking his plans one day at a time. He said he would entertain the thought of continuing to play hockey if he was approached about it.
Walrod: He has four classes left to complete. He said he will continue to play if the right call comes or decide to use his degree to look for a summer internship.
Advice to underclassmen:
Forfar: “It’s so cliche, but it goes by a lot faster than you think. It definitely seems like yesterday I was a nervous kid coming onto campus, didn’t know what to expect. I knew nobody and then it turns into a huge family, and now I don’t want to leave.”
Grassi: “The biggest thing is just the legacy of being a Spartan. When we came through, the older guys did it for us. They left us knowing that when you come here, it’s not a right, it’s a privilege. … What we want to leave behind is just that you have to work hard each day and nothing’s going to come easy.”
Hayes: “You just want to reiterate the fact that time does go by extremely fast when you look back. You say four years is a long time — it may be in the grand scheme of things — but it just goes by, it feels so much quicker than that. You don’t want to take any day for granted.”
Walrod: “I would tell the freshmen just to make the most of all their time here and make sure they do the little things, and take the chance to get on the ice all the time, and excel in their classes and all that because you don’t wanna get caught behind in schoolwork.”
Click here to read a blog featuring additional thoughts from MSU’s seniors