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With a start date still unannounced, ice hockey's Danton Cole keeps his team safe and prepared

September 28, 2020

With the questions surrounding the 2020 college football season slowly being answered, eyes have started turning to other sports. Ice hockey, in particular, is still wondering what their season will entail.

Last year, the Spartans dropped the puck on the 2019-2020 season in early October. That will not be the case for this year.

Earlier this month, the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) announced that the beginning of the 2020 college hockey season would be delayed.

This announcement, which gave no definitive start date to the season, did not serve as much of a surprise to Michigan State men’s hockey head coach Danton Cole.

“I always try and look at things on the positive side and that was to let everyone know and keep people from guessing," Cole said.

With Big Ten football getting the green light to play, optimism has grown that hockey skates may hit the ice soon.

“That (football) is such a huge part of our university ... It is a physical sport like ours," Cole said. "So far what has gone on has been good. The coaches over with the football team are doing a great job."

Despite the uncertainty on a starting date, practices are still underway in the nearly finished renovated Munn Ice Arena. The team was able to begin practicing for eight hours per week when the fall semester started in August. Four hours of practice are on-ice and four hours are off-ice.

Cole said health and safety are more important than ever before and play a part in almost everything they plan.

“It finds itself in every decision you make," Cole said. "Whether it is classes, meals, what we are doing on-ice, what we are doing off-ice, or how we are doing our meetings. It is very invasive on how we are doing it ... everybody wants to do it the right way. You just try and get as much information as you can.”

One way the team has been coping with the obscurity of the season is by holding meetings or workouts outside. A nice added component for the team to take advantage of, at least while the weather is still warm.

In his third year as head coach last season, Cole led MSU to a 15-19-2 record. The team has improved its record every year since Cole took over and they hope to do the same this year. Cole credits his seniors in the past and believes this year's seniors can do the same.

“You just keep building and doing it the right way and do it with the right people,” Cole said.

So far, Cole said he has been impressed with the play of senior forward Mitchell Lewandowksi and junior defenseman Dennis Cesana in practice. Additionally, Cole said this year's sophomores Jagger Joshua, Josh Nodler and Nicolas Muller, all of which play at the forward position, have taken a nice jump from last year.

“Those three guys are going to have to increase their scoring and pick up some of the goals that need to be replaced,” said Cole.

Fans are not expected to be in attendance whenever the season does start, but playing in a newly renovated Munn Ice Arena, even if it is not fully complete, could bring newfound energy to a team that looks to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2011-2012 season.

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