Last season was less than ideal for Michigan State hockey, but with the hire of Head Coach Adam Nightingale and the return of some key players, there is hope for this season, which begins with an exhibition match Saturday night.
Here are three sticks to watch for MSU on the ice:
Graduate student defenseman Christian Krygier
A seventh-round pick to the New York Islanders in the 2018 draft, Krygier returns to MSU after a season that featured some career bests.
He finished the season with two goals and six assists, both career highs, as well as leading MSU with 79 penalty minutes. He also accumulated 48 blocked shots.
The big, physical defenseman can skate well and defend, but in order to take the next step in his game, Kyrgier will need to step up on the offensive side.
The up-tempo style of play Nightingale hopes to implement could do wonders for Krygier’s improvement in that aspect of his game, and if he does improve offensively, good things will happen for MSU.
Sophomore defenseman David Gucciardi
From a freshman year that flashed a lot of potential, Gucciardi is back to build on a solid first season.
Last year, the seventh round draft pick to the Washington Capitals led all Spartan freshmen in goals with five, scoring two of them on the power play. He also posted six assists to bring his point total to 11.
He appeared in all 36 games and blocked 44 shots as well.
When on the ice, Gucciardi does a solid job of recognizing space as well as finishing off-puck routes to create space behind him.
In order to improve on a strong freshman campaign, he will need to unlock his passing skill rather to take his offensive game to the next level.
Sophomore forward Jesse Tucker
Finally, another player who had a strong freshman season and will play important minutes this season is Tucker.
Tucker received the team’s Outstanding Rookie Award last year after leading the Spartans in assists and points with 22 and 24, respectively.
He appeared in every game last season and blocked 17 shots while taking just six minor penalties.
Tucker is arguably the Spartans most important returnee and will look to improve upon an incredible debut season.
With Nightingale now at the helm and these three all returning to the Munn Ice Arena in October, there is a chance we could see meaningful hockey played in East Lansing again.
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