Hockey ready for season-opening tournament
Junior forward Chris Forfar checks Western Ontario defenseman Geoff Killing into the boards Monday night at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans won the exhibition game, 6-1.
The last time the MSU hockey team faced Boston College, it was 2007 and a national championship was on the line.
Although the stakes aren’t as high this time, the Spartans will look to make a strong opening statement to the 2011-12 season against Boston College in their first game of the Ice Breaker Tournament in Grand Folks, N.D.
The No. 5 Eagles likely will give MSU all it can handle as they tout an experienced roster and enter the year as the preseason favorite to win the prestigious Hockey East conference.
“We know we’ll have our hands full, and I’m real glad we’re playing a team like Boston College right out of the gate,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “They play real fast, they play real aggressive, they play with speed.”
“They’re an annual NCAA Tournament team who has gotten to the Frozen Four and the championship game more consistently than any other team in the last decade-plus.”
As for the Eagles, they contain one of the deepest lines of forwards in the country. The Eagles have ten letter-winning forwards returning from last season, led by co-captains Barry Almeida and Paul Carey.
The duo combined for 21 goals and 26 total points in 2010-11 season, as the Eagles cruised before earning a 2011 NCAA Tournament berth.
History is on the Spartans’ side, as the team controls the all-time series record 16-6-1 with the most current victory coming in the National Championship game in 2007.
Coming off a 6-1 exhibition win Monday against Western Ontario at Munn Ice Arena, several of the players including freshman forward Tanner Sorenson expressed confidence heading into the weekend.
“It was nice to get the first game under the belt because now every game is going to get harder and harder,” Sorenson said. “We’ve got a big test Friday against BC. … That game will be a big test.”
Based on the results of the game against Boston College, the Spartans will face either North Dakota or Air Force to wrap up the series on Saturday.
The Spartans have yet to lose against Air Force (5-0-0) but also haven’t played the Falcons since 1973. The Fighting Sioux are a far more familiar opponent, as they hold a commanding series lead against MSU (62-36-2).
Following the Ice Breaker Tournament, the Spartans will travel to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., for a weekend two-game series against Lake Superior State. The team then will return home for the first regular season action at Munn Ice Arena, with a double-header against Ohio State (Oct 20-21).
For Krug and many of the Spartans, this weekend could be an important one in building the foundation of the program.
“You come to Michigan State to play teams like Boston College, North Dakota and even Air Force,” Krug said. “That’s why you come here, to play in these big games. I’m so excited to get there and to get on the ice.”