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MSU hockey barely misses 16-team NCAA tournament field

March 19, 2023
MSU alternate goalie Jon Mor raises his glove hand in celebration at the conclusion of MSU’s victory over Notre Dame. The Spartans will play the Fighting Irish again on Sunday, March 5, 2023.
MSU alternate goalie Jon Mor raises his glove hand in celebration at the conclusion of MSU’s victory over Notre Dame. The Spartans will play the Fighting Irish again on Sunday, March 5, 2023.

In its first season under coach Adam Nightingale, Michigan State hockey rebounded from a subpar 2021-2022 season by winning over 15 games for the first time since 2015. Despite the program’s resurgence, MSU barely missed the NCAA tournament. 

MSU ended the year in fifth place in the Big Ten after finishing in last place with just six conference wins a year ago. The Spartans’ season was highlighted by four wins against Notre Dame, two over Penn State and Ohio State and one against Michigan.

The Spartans had the chance to play themselves into the NCAA field of 16 after besting Notre Dame in the Big Ten tournament’s first-round series in South Bend. Despite falling to the Fighting Irish in the series opener, MSU rallied to win the next two games in what marked the program’s first win and series win in Big Ten Tournament history. 

The Spartans would have likely made the 16-team field with a win over No. 1 Minnesota in the Big Ten semifinals; however, after mounting an early 1-0 lead, they let up five consecutive goals en route to a 5-1 defeat. 

Even after falling to the Gophers, MSU still had an outside chance of sneaking into the field if results from other conference tournaments ended in favorable outcomes for the Spartans. When all was said and done though, MSU finished just two spots out of the Pairwise cut line of 14. 

MSU finished the year with a record of 18-18-2 and ranked 16th in the final Pairwise rankings, narrowly missing the field’s last at-large bid. The official field will be announced Sunday night. 

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