Spartans travel to Alaska for weekend series
Sophomore forward Tanner Sorenson blocks a shot by Northern Michigan in front of freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand. The Spartans defeated the Wildcats, 4-2, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, at Munn Ice Arena. Justin Wan/The State News
Multiple flights and a day’s worth of travel, only to be welcomed by a high of minus 4 degrees. The weather of Fairbanks, Alaska, might make the frigid winters of East Lansing seem tropic, but to Tanner Sorenson, the sub-zero temperature means home.
Sorenson, a sophomore forward on the MSU hockey team (9-20-3 overall, 7-16-1-0 CCHA), might be a little ways from his home city of Anchorage, Alaska, but it is seems like nothing compared to the distance he’s used to when at MSU.
“I’m a little bit more excited to travel than I am usually,” Sorenson said. “I have a lot of family going; they’re all making the trip, and then I have a lot of family (and) friends that live in Fairbanks, too.”
He said his brother who lives in Seattle also is going to head up for the weekend — Sorenson said the two haven’t seen each other in about a year and a half.
The reunion is owed to MSU hockey heading out for its farthest CCHA series of the season against Alaska.
The Nanooks (13-13-4 overall, 11-12-3-1 CCHA) are sixth in the league and MSU is in last. If the standings stay as is, the two will face each other again in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.
Sorenson said he expects Alaska to come out strong in an attempt to pull into fifth place and receive a first-round bye in the playoffs.
“They have some pretty dynamic offensive players that you have to be very aware of,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “They’re going to be at home, it’s their last league regular season games. … I would expect them to be pretty ready to play.”
The Carlson Center, Alaska’s home ice, has an Olympic-size ice sheet.
It will be the second time the Spartans play on Olympic-sized ice this season — the first being against Minnesota opening weekend, in which MSU was swept. MSU also played two games at Notre Dame, whose home ice a little larger than Munn Ice Arena.
“You just try to play the same systems, unless coach changes something up, which I don’t think he will,” sophomore forward Matt Berry said. “The Olympic ice, it’s a little wider, there’s more room to make plays and stuff, too, so it should help on the power play.”
Anastos said the team will need to be more aware of the size of the ice, but he’s been told not to dwell on the size difference and that’s the approach he’s taking with MSU.
“If you’re going to get beat somewhere, you’re going to get beat wide rather than to the middle,” he said. “In the end, the nets are in the same spot, so you have to eventually get there.”
Sorenson said he played at the Carlson Center a bit growing up, and said he prefers the larger ice because of the way it opens up the game and gives the players more room to make plays.
He might be excited to head back to his home state and see family he hasn’t seen in a while, but he said in the end, he’s going there to work.
“I’ve been trying to do my homework for this week and next week just to get it out of the way so I don’t have to worry about it, so it’s relaxing going home,” he said. “Seeing all the family and friends, it will just be cool, kind of like a recovery.”