Saturday, May 18, 2024

Mason: too soon to start prepping

April 2, 2001

Going up against defending national champion North Dakota in the Frozen Four this week, one might think MSU head coach Ron Mason would be poring over any tape of the Fighting Sioux he could get his hands on.

But that’s not the case.

“If you start too soon on the other team, you’ll forget about them by the time you get there,” Mason said. “I want to get us back into Michigan State shape and tidy up some areas that we looked at (in the regional final game) last Sunday.”

Mason’s top-seeded Spartans battle the No. 2 seed Fighting Sioux - a team MSU has not played since 1988 - in a national semifinal game at 1:35 p.m. Thursday.

The game will be played at a sold-out Pepsi Arena in Albany, N.Y., and televised on ESPN 2.

The winner advances to the championship game at 7:05 p.m. Saturday against the winner of No. 1 seed Boston College vs. No. 3 seed Michigan.

Mason said MSU would start offensive and defensive preparation today. That will give the team two practices in Munn Ice Arena before it departs for Albany on Tuesday night.

“On our offensive/defensive days, you’re basically doing your own thing,” Mason said. “But you’re also making sure the guys understand, on the defensive days, what they’re defending and, on the offensive days, how to attack.”

The Frozen Four doesn’t quite invite the hoopla that surrounds basketball’s Final Four, but Mason said it’s still very important to block out distractions.

“Fortunately, we have a good bunch of guys that have been there before,” Mason said. “We’re going to be playing a team that’s won it and is the defending champs, but at least we’ve been there before, you know?

“Hopefully, our guys can go in there and be able to separate fantasy from reality.”

Junior defenseman Andrew Hutchinson agrees it’s imperative to focus on the games and nothing else.

“You really have to put everything in the back of your mind and go out there and play hockey the way we’ve been playing all year,” Hutchinson said. “We have to go out there and do our thing and not really worry about what (North Dakota) is doing.”

Perhaps the most important thing for the Spartans to remember is to stick with the stellar defensive game plan that got them to Albany in the first place.

High-scoring shoot-outs will only play into the hands of North Dakota, Boston College and U-M and their talented offenses - and Mason knows it.

“You didn’t make it here by playing somebody else’s game,” Mason said. “Whatever your game is, you have to hope that everyone on your team is playing it and playing their best.

“We’re not going to do anything different than we have been doing. We’ve brought our game to the table more consistently than anyone else this year and been able to win with it.”

Hobey presentation on television

The Hobey Baker Award presentation will be televised on Fox Sports Detroit at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

MSU sophomore goaltender Ryan Miller is one of the front-runners for the Hobey - college hockey’s most prestigious individual trophy.

The presentation will take place at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center on the off-day between Frozen Four games.

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