Monday, June 17, 2024

Preview: MSU Hockey to host UMass-Lowell following first season win

October 13, 2022

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Coming off its first win of the season, a 2-1 victory over Bowling Green, Michigan State hockey looks to add to the win column as it takes on No. 16 UMass-Lowell Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday at 7:30 p.m.

First-year Head Coach Adam Nightingale said he thought his team improved throughout the weekend in the series versus BGSU. 

“I thought at home in the first game we were a little sloppy to start,” Nightingale said. “At Bowling Green, (there were) really good tests, really tough building to play in, but the guys played really well for 60 minutes and got the job done.”

Senior forward Erik Middendorf said MSU wanted to win at home Friday night, but it was “nice” to get the first win of the season on the road over BGSU.

“We played amazing there and kept the pace off and made minimal mistakes, and when we did our effort was so high that we just dominated them,” Middendorf said.

Middendorf finished 2021-22 with 12 goals, four of which were game-winning. 

With freshmen forwards Karsen Dorwart, Tiernan Shoudy and Daniel Russell all scoring goals so far this season, Nightingale said the early success from the freshmen on his team is a “good sign” for the future of the program.

“I think the freshmen group’s done a really good job of coming in and putting their head down and working and I think that's really important when you're talking about a team,” Nightingale said.

Nightingale added there is no sense of entitlement among the younger players, despite their early achievements. 

“Having that humble approach where they're still confident but not coming into the locker room and walking around like ‘I'm some big shot,’ I think that's really important for what we're trying to do,” Nightingale said. “I think each one of them has done a really good job of that.”

Graduate defenseman Michael Underwood echoed Nightingale’s praise for the rookies and said he noticed the freshmen’s talent from the first weeks of summer camp.

“We were all interested to see what they were going to be like when they started to play big boy hockey and they've been able to show up and then some,” Underwood said. “They've been carrying the weight and we're really happy because they work their bag off. They show up every day, they don't complain, they do what they need to do, they work hard and they've been great for us.”

Underwood is a Michigan native who transferred to MSU from Clarkson University where he played 35 games, scored two goals and five assists for seven points during the 2021-22 season. 

Friday night’s game drew a decent size crowd which included a rowdy student section in the Munnsters. Nightingale said he appreciates the fans and that their support is important to the team. 

“Our job is to give them something to get excited about and we're working at it, and I think we're getting better,” Nightingale said. “You can sense the passion for Spartan hockey and for them to come out and support us is a big deal.”

A look at matchup with UMass-Lowell

MSU and UMass-Lowell met last season for a two-game series in Massachusetts. The first game ended in a 2-2 tie in overtime, but the River Hawks took the second, 4-0. 

UMass-Lowell is 2-1 this season with wins over Saint Lawrence and Miami Ohio.

Nightingale said UMass-Lowell is a competitive, well coached team that frequents the post-season tournament often.

“They’re a really good team,” Nightingale said. “Our challenge against them will be to try to get to the inside. They’re a team that really prides themselves on defending and they can catch you in transition, so we got to have three really good practices this week to get ready for the weekend.”

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Senior forward Carl Berglund leads UMass-Lowell with three goals in three games, two of which came in one game against Miami Ohio.

As a returner, Middendorf said he remembers UMass-Lowell as a tough opponent and expects another challenging matchup this year. 

“I think this year with our speed and our ability to transition, we’ll see if they can handle that,” Middendorf said. “Playing at Lowell last year, we were a little slow. I felt like we were stuck in mud for a bit, but I think at home this year and the confidence that we have in our work ethic and in our game, I'm excited for the matchup.”


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