Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Two exhibition games open hockey season

September 28, 2001
Forward Adam Hall takes the ice at practice in Munn Ice Arena on Monday. The Spartans Green and White intrasquad scrimmage and exhibition game against Queen —

The MSU coaching staff’s agenda for this weekend is fairly simple - provide the freshmen with their first competitive collegiate atmosphere, get the returning players back up to game speed and at all costs, avoid injuries.

But it’s easier said than done.

Just five days after their first practice, the Spartans are being thrust into back-to-back exhibition games, starting with the annual Green and White intrasquad game at 7:05 p.m. today at Munn Ice Arena. MSU then hosts an experienced Queen’s University (Ontario) team at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in its sole exhibition match-up of the year.

The games are the only tune-ups for the Spartans heading into “The Cold War” outdoor contest against Michigan on Oct. 6 in Spartan Stadium.

MSU head coach Ron Mason will miss the Green and White game to attend the funeral of Maine head coach Shawn Walsh in Bangor, Maine. Walsh was a former MSU assistant and Mason’s former son-in-law.

MSU assistant coaches Tom Newton and Dave McAuliffe will lead the Spartan contingents tonight and Mason is expected back for Saturday’s game.

Although the short preparation time for the Green and White game is customary, Mason said it poses some problems.

“Obviously, we’d like to have more time to allow the new players to develop a little,” Mason said. “But I also like it in a way because the kids are all in good shape and we can get a feel for where we’re at.

“And sometimes having a game early, no one on your team has, at that point, any goals and assists, nobody really knows how much they’re going to play. Those games are pretty spontaneous. They show me straight-out what guys can do - they play without thinking, they just work.”

That’s why, as much as this weekend’s games offer a competitive flavor, the MSU coaches are mostly looking forward to their evaluative functions.

Mason has been juggling lines in practice all week, and he said he wants to see how the combinations work in realistic settings.

“As much as you practice, it’s not a game,” Mason said. “We’re looking at the players and how they work in our systems in a real, pressure setting.”

After the intrasquad game, the Spartans will reunite Saturday to play the older, game-ready Golden Gaels, a team MSU isn’t taking lightly.

After all, the Spartans were shocked 6-4 by the Under-18 U.S. National Development team in an exhibition last season. But Queen’s doesn’t have much in common with the upstart youngsters that surprised MSU.

The Golden Gaels are an experienced, disciplined, methodical team, which will be a good test for the Spartans as they try to shake out bad habits developed in free-wheeling summer pick-up games.

“We can’t worry about how old they are or how fast the game’s going to be,” senior defenseman Andrew Hutchinson said. “We just want to play our game and see how our systems are going to work with the guys playing together.”

Tickets for the Green and White game are $3 and can be purchased at the door. For Saturday’s game, tickets remain in Section F and are $18 for the general public or $8 for students. Call (517)355-1610 or (800)GO STATE for more information.


Share and discuss “Two exhibition games open hockey season” on social media.