JT Stenglein coming into his own for MSU hockey
A little more than a year ago, junior forward JT Stenglein was just another name lost on the MSU hockey roster. Hidden underneath the skill of guys on the depth chart, Stenglein was a non concern. Now he’s the guy teams talk about first.
During Stenglein’s first two seasons with the Spartans, he had just five points. This year, he is having a career year, with 10 points in eight games. Stenglein’s surprising start to the season is only unsurprising to the coaching staff of MSU.
“I think he’s starting to grasp what we’ve asked him to do to translate his game from where he was in junior hockey to here,” head coach Tom Anastos said of Stenglein’s rise. “He’s working harder at that than he ever has.”
When MSU first spotted Stenglein, he was a young star in the USHL. After playing for three teams in the 2012-13 USHL season, Stenglein produced 55 points in 53 games. He also helped lead the US Junior Select Team to a gold medal over Canada West in the World Junior A Challenge. In the 2011-12 season Stenglein generated 31 goals and 20 assists in 56 games and set a Youngstown Phantoms franchise record for goals.
Stenglein had all the trappings to produce a college hockey star, but when it came time to drop the puck on his freshman campaign, he seemed to lose his touch.
As with any higher level in any facet of sports or life, there’s an adjustment to be made. Some players transition smoothly, others slosh through like molasses. After underachieving for two seasons, Stenglein needed to make a change if he was to bring his true talent to fruition.
“Just trying to be a little more active and get involved a little bit more,” Stenglein said of the areas of his game he focused on during the summer. “I just wanted to try and work on the other parts of my game like the defensive zone.”
“Just talking with the coaches about what it takes to adapt my game from the junior level to the college is just something I’ve been trying to work on for the past couple of years now. ”
A big hand in the development of Stenglein falls upon the shoulders of Anastos and his coaching staff. Recognizing what Stenglein brought to the table for MSU, and cognizant of his former playing days, the coaching staff has been hard at work in molding Stenglein’s ability.
“I want his game to keep getting better,” Anastos said of Stenglein’s success so far. “Don’t just measure because you score and we won the game, let’s keeping pushing the standard to be higher.”
“To his credit he’s taken that on,” Anastos said. “I told him move your feet the rest of the rink like you do below from the top of the circles down. As long as he does that he can contribute throughout the rink.”
Stenglein’s game has done a complete 180 and comes with a confidence in his own ability to produce and play hockey at this level.
His scoring touch is back, and his ability to use his six-foot, 205-pound frame to fend off opponents has put Stenglein right back into junior hockey form. Aggressive and unafraid to drive the net, Stenglein might become the centerpiece to MSU’s offensive production.
Stenglein’s rise isn’t lost on his teammates either.
“It’s huge, we needed it coming into the year,” senior forward Michael Ferrantino said. “I think he felt that and worked really hard this summer. It’s amazing what confidence can do. It’s great to see.”
Stenglein also knows without his linemates, he wouldn’t be in as a good a position as he is now.
“My linemates and I are clicking right now,” Stenglein said. “I think hockey’s a lot about who you play with and me, (Thomas) Ebbing, and (Joe) Cox are working well together right now.”
Stenglein recorded three points (two goals, one assist) in two games against UNH this weekend, giving him a total of 10 points on the season (five goals, five assists). Stenglein will need to continue his stellar play as MSU pushes for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.