MSU hockey incorporates yoga into practice to prep for Michigan Tech
When MSU hockey head coach Tom Anastos walked into his weekly press conference, he mentioned his team’s morale was high. After its first win against the Princeton University Tigers last Friday, it was a natural reaction.
Along with a flurry of firsts to strike the Spartans, Anastos said his team had a productive few practices since its match. One aspect that stood out, though, has slowly become a staple in the Spartans' routine — yoga.
The catch is instead of normal yoga in normal temperatures, the team participates in the Bikram variety, where the postures and breathing exercises are done in high temperatures.
During the 90 minutes, the players are subjected to 105 degree Fahrenheit rooms, a sharp contrast to the cold rink they’re usually skating on. While the sessions might be tough, senior wing Joe Cox said it’s more a mental struggle for his team than anything.
“(Yoga is) a whole different type of mental preparation,” Cox said. “We get a lot out of it, actually. You get a good sweat in and it’s good to kind of stretch out."
As a result of the team’s busy schedule, Anastos cautioned that yoga wouldn’t be part of the regular schedule for the players. They’ve only done it three times, but he said the team has embraced it as part of their training regiment thus far.
Looking forward to the upcoming weekend, the Spartans will take on Michigan Technological University when they visit Munn Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday. In recent memory, the two teams played competitively. Since Nov. 9, 2013 — spanning a five-game stretch — MSU and Michigan Tech have gone into overtime in all five games.
“I always love playing Michigan Tech,” Cox said. “It’s really a hard-nosed game, pretty physical, lots of speed, a lot of compete. So (it) doesn’t surprise me that the last five have gone into overtime, but hopefully we can change that.”
While the Huskies are 3-5-2 overall this season, Anastos said they’re still a team MSU will have to gear up for extensively.
“Michigan Tech, to me, is a much better team than their record would indicate,” Anastos said. “Actually, I think they’re a very good team. They play hard, they’ve got experience. They’ve played a pretty good schedule so far this season. They’re a hard team to play against.”
Just like earlier in the season against Lake Superior State University, the Spartans will be facing an in-state foe. With that, there’ll always be a rivalry aspect to the game, Cox said.
“Any team in Michigan, you just want to kind of rank yourself among the rest of them,” Cox said. “So there’s always that good in-state battle.”
Peering back to Anastos’ playing days at MSU, he said that the Huskies have always been a challenging team to play against. The opposing team has created an identity through the years, and Anastos said that vibe has stuck with him throughout the years.
“Over the years, this dates back to when I played against Michigan Tech, they had a reputation of being a hard team to play against,” Anastos said. “I think they’ve developed that mentality and it’s helped them have success.”
In the past few weeks to open the young season, the Spartans have used their practice times to work specifically on different parts of their game. Now, with an improved offense and defense, MSU will look to improve its identity and work on the little things instead.
“We’re continuing to focus on the foundational things that we need to be good at in our style of play,” Anastos said. “We’re trying not to get too sophisticated, we’re trying to get good at a few things that we feel could allow us to be reliable in those areas and then build off of that.”
While there’s no specific emphasis to this week’s slate of practices, redshirt-senior defenseman Rhett Holland said they like to start off in their own zone. With that, there’s always a focus on defense to make sure the team knows what it’s doing on the ice, Holland said.
The next two series — including the one against Michigan Tech — will be crucial for MSU as it will face Ferris State University in a home-and-home series Nov. 10 and Nov. 12. With two in-state rivals slated back-to-back, the team has a prime opportunity to get some points after a disappointing start to the season.
“This weekend is huge for us,” Holland said. “Huge for our school and our program. We didn’t have the start we wanted. But we’ve got a chance here to make it up these next two weekends here. … That’d be really good for us, for our team leading forward for the rest of the season."
MSU and the Huskies will hook up for a two-game series Nov. 4-5. Both games will be hosted at Munn and puck drop is scheduled at 7:05 p.m. both nights. Follow @thesnews_sports on Twitter for continued coverage of MSU hockey.