At Tuesday afternoon’s press conference, MSU hockey players and head coach Tom Anastos finally were able to say they succeeded at the little things last weekend.
Despite failing to complete Friday night’s comeback and losing to Northern Michigan, 5-3, the Spartans (9-21-3 overall, 7-16-1-0 CCHA) were able to turn it around Saturday and finish on top, 4-2.
“The first goal we gave up Friday night … our goalie made two saves and they scored on the third try,” Anastos said. “That’s going to happen if you give up two to three scoring chances. By our count, we gave up zero on Saturday night.”
Sophomore forward Tanner Sorenson, who scored an empty-netter Saturday, said the team took the desperation it played with in the final frame Friday and carried it over to the next night. He said the Spartans came out hard, were physical, finished their checks and every player had one of their better games.
No sophomore slump
Sorenson is one of a four-contributor sophomore class, three of whom are returning from last season. The returners, Sorenson and forwards Matt Berry and Brent Darnell, are MSU’s leading scorers at this point and have emerged as regulars in the lineup.
“With freshmen coming in — we have 12 of them — so us three, we play quite a bit,” Berry said. “We have to step up and try to be leaders for these guys, and I think that has something to do with it — us knowing that our role this year is a lot bigger than it was last year.”
Defenseman R.J. Boyd came to MSU this season as a transfer, joining the other sophomores.
“We like the way his game is,” Anastos said. “He’s gotten acclimated. I think he’s playing with good consistency. He’s one of the guys back on the blue line that, for us, can provide us with a physical presence.”
After starting the season hot, Berry hit a wall about midway through the season. His goal Friday was his first since Dec. 30, and his first point since Jan. 19.
He was the Spartans go-to man at the beginning of the season, sitting atop the CCHA in multiple categories and having a standout game against Michigan on Nov. 10 with three goals.
He said when things fell off, it became frustrating and he began to overthink why the puck wasn’t finding the back of the net, letting the frustration build.
“It was nice for me to get back on the board here because I haven’t gotten on the board in all of 2013,” Berry said. “So that was definitely nice.”