Spartans look for rebound, will host Princeton on Friday
The MSU hockey team (0-4) will welcome Princeton University (0-0) this weekend when the two teams face off at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans will be looking for their first win of the season after they were swept the weekend before by then-No. 6 University of Denver.
While the season just started, head coach Tom Anastos said a win would be big for the team to get it out of the way. But Anastos also said games are determined by how his team performs, and as a whole, the team needs to work on it.
“I don’t want to lie and pretend that winning isn't really important,” Anastos said. “It would be good for our team right now because we need one. At the same time, I think it’s important we’re focused on making our game better to give us the best chance to win.”
Princeton will be playing its first game of the season, as the Ivy League conference hasn’t started regular season play yet. Anastos said because of this, the team isn’t completely sure what they'll get Friday.
MSU will be facing off against goaltender Colton Phinney of the Tigers. He was named second-team All-Ivy League last season and played in all but one of Princeton’s games. Knowing this, Anastos said his team will have to be mindful of playing against one of the better talents in the Ivy League.
“They have real strong goaltending, so they work from their goal out,” Anastos said. “I think he’s one of, if not, they’re top player. Certainly one of the top players on their team and one of the top goalies in their league.”
Currently on MSU's roster, they have eight players who have played the Tigers at some point in their careers. Senior Joe Cox said he remembers playing them and gave the underclassmen some advice for Friday's game.
“I would tell the younger guys that they are a very hardworking team,” Cox said. “They’re going to be chasing all over the ice, going 100 miles per hour, and it really works for them. They’re just really aggressive."
The Spartans last faced off against the Tigers two seasons ago, back on Nov. 28-29, 2014. They split the series, with a 4-2 win and 3-1 loss.
MSU is looking for its first win of the season, and last time out played two competitive games against a top-10 team in Denver on home ice. As a result, the mood around the locker room has gotten better, Cox said.
“I would say (the locker room is) a lot better than coming out of Lake (Superior) State,” Cox said. “We just played the No. 6 team and we showed that we could play them. We had chances that to actually win both those games, I thought. I think the mood in the locker room is that we belong there.”
While Anastos said he’s seen his team’s confidence goes up, he also wants to see the results of their hard work come to fruition. Instead of the moral victories, he said tactual W’s in the win column will go a long way for his team.
“I think confidence is growing,” Anastos said. “I thought we took a step in that direction … certainly you want to get rewarded for progress as well and performance. The next step for us to get over that hump and start developing a game that gets us some wins, some winning results. Which, again, will continue to foster that confidence.”
The match between Princeton and MSU is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Oct. 28 at Munn Ice Arena. After the one-game set, the Spartans will host Michigan Tech University Nov. 4-5.