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Seniors reminisce as MSU hockey's season mercifully closes

March 17, 2017
Senior center Thomas Ebbing (28) fights Ohio State center Dakota Joshua (8) for the puck during the first period of the men’s hockey game against Ohio State University on March 16, 2017 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The spartans are up, 3-2.
Senior center Thomas Ebbing (28) fights Ohio State center Dakota Joshua (8) for the puck during the first period of the men’s hockey game against Ohio State University on March 16, 2017 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The spartans are up, 3-2. —
Photo by Chloe Grigsby | and Chloe Grigsby The State News

The bleeding can finally be put to a halt for the MSU hockey team.

After a 6-3 quarterfinal loss in the Big Ten Tournament to No. 3-seeded Ohio State University, the Spartans concluded their demoralizing season with an overall record of 7-24-4.

For MSU’s seniors, Thursday’s loss was a disappointing end to their Spartan career, but also a chance to reminisce on their tenure in East Lansing.

“I mean, it's disappointing to end my five years on this note, but at the same time, it's an opportunity just to reflect on the five years that I've been here and just thank the school, the program, the coaching staff, my teammates for everything they've done for me throughout the five years, and this team especially,” redshirt-senior defenseman Rhett Holland said. “It's not the way we wanted to obviously end the year, but it's a moment to reflect with them and be there for them.”

Senior forward Villiam Haag recorded a goal and an assist in his final game as a Spartan.

“Of course incredibly disappointing ending this way,” Haag said. “But as (Holland) said, I think we're an amazing group of guys. We stick together, and we came to the rink every day and worked hard. I'm very proud of being a part of this team and a Spartan as a whole.”

Before arriving at MSU, Haag, a 6-foot-1 forward, lived in Sweden. Although he plans on going back to his native country after graduation, Haag said after Thursday’s loss that playing hockey in the NCAA lived up to his expectations.

“It's a great place to be at,” Haag said. “You have the opportunity to get an education and play hockey against the best guys in the world. I'm very lucky to be a guy that got that opportunity. I was thinking that it would be a good league, and that's what it's turned out to be, too. Amazing experience these four years, and if you referred to Swedish players, I would recommend them coming over.”

Unlike Holland, Haag and the rest of MSU’s seniors, head coach Tom Anastos was able to be a part of an MSU team that made a Frozen Four appearance.

The sixth-year coach said coaching this year’s team has brought immense frustrations for numerous reasons.

“Well, there's been a lot of frustrations,” Anastos said. “There has been a lot of frustrations, for a variety of different reasons. As you kind of try to reflect, and my head is not super clear to reflect on it now, but yeah, I expect to win. There's a lot of dynamics that go into that, so I'm sure no one ever takes winning for granted because winning is not an easy thing to do. It's a tough thing to do. But yeah, I’m disappointed.”

This Spartans’ performance this season often relied heavily on their freshmen. Anastos said he knew prior to the start of the season that they would have to play an instrumental role on this team, but realized their inexperience couldn’t be an excuse for poor performance.

“Disappointing end to it for sure, but it was a disappointing season,” Anastos said. “I knew coming into the season that we were introducing a lot of new to the team, that a lot of freshmen would play key roles, playing a lot of freshmen on defense. I knew we had a huge question mark in goal, so those are things that we had to get better, had to overcome during the course of the season. ... But in the end, no, I'm disappointed with the season and I'm disappointed with how it ended (Thursday).”

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