Despite sour ending to hockey season, head coach Tom Anastos still finds positives
Just one week after Providence won the NCAA championship, MSU hockey head coach Tom Anastos took some time to look back on the Spartans season. Even though MSU’s season ended on a sour note with a loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament, Anastos still found plenty of positives.
“I just came back from Boston watching the Frozen Four and I was inspired by it,” Anastos said. “Seeing the teams that can compete and God, there’s a lot of parity in our sport.”
Since making the NCAA tournament in 2012, MSU has been in a rebuilding mode of sorts. Anastos pointed to this past season as the year where he thought the Spartans could turn the corner as a program.
“I think everything from a programmatic standpoint is moving in the direction that we want it to move,” Anastos said.
“I thought it was a season of progress. I thought when you look at the beginning of the season to the end of the season, one of our main objectives was to see progress in our game, see guys emerge, see guys continue to gain experience in key situations and I thought that that took place.”
Early in the season, it looked like it might not be the year MSU took that extra, necessary step.
“I thought it took us longer than I’d like to kind of find ourselves, which I thought really started to take place when we kind of bottomed out maybe in our first game with Minnesota,” Anastos said. “But I think it had a lot to do with us changing gears into the second half of the season.“
MSU will return a majority of its players next season. The group of 10 sophomores and eight juniors accounted for 70 percent of their scoring production and all of their goaltender statistics.
While some of the returning players could opt to sign a professional contract instead of returning to MSU, Anastos does not believe he will lose anyone to the next level.
“I think we have a really good group coming back,” Anastos said. “We have some leadership depth. We have some talent depth that we probably haven’t seen the combination of those two in the first few years.”
One aspect that will help the returning Spartans is the experience gained as MSU tried to capture its first conference title since 2001.
“Each succeeding week got more important and so there was some pressure that started to build and we had to start managing that pressure, and that was a good thing,” Anastos said.
“Those were all good experiences for our guys and I thought those were things that were really going to build on this summer into next season.”
MSU will certainly have higher expectations going in to next season, and managing those expectations starts in the offseason.
“I’m excited about next season already, and I think the most important part of next season is this offseason,” Anastos said.