Michigan State hockey is set to kick off its upcoming season next weekend, and with that comes new variation of faces on the ice.
Over the summer, a handful of Spartan players were able to experience the excitement of being drafted, and heading to development camps, before making their way home to Michigan State to prepare for the upcoming season under the leadership of second-year head coach, Adam Nightingale.
"One thing I like about Nighty (Nightingale) is that he instilled a message in us that it's not going to change regardless of how much talent you have on the team,” sophomore forward, and alternate captain Karsen Dorwart said.
For Dorwart, his freshman campaign in the green and white included being second in goals (10) and third in total points (27) on the team. Dorwart's impressive rookie season led to him being invited to the Detroit Red Wings development camp at the beginning of July.
Alongside Dorwart at Red Wings camp was freshman goalie Trey Augustine, who was drafted 41st overall by Detroit in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. Augustine is from southeastern Michigan, so he said that there was no better feeling than being a Red Wings draft pick.
“Being able to find my game with the people that I’ll be playing for one day was a super neat opportunity. To play with the guys growing up that I watched on TV...so it was kind of a full circle moment,” Augustine said. “Obviously I was hoping that they'd call my name, so that was awesome.”
Junior forward Red Savage also joined Dorwart and Augustine to Detroit for their camp after having been drafted by the team in 2021.
Two Spartans also headed to development camp for the Buffalo Sabres over the summer. Those players included senior defenseman and captain Nash Nienhuis and incoming freshman defensemen Maxim Štrbák who was snagged by the Sabres 45th overall in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
For Štrbák, being drafted and coming to Michigan State was a huge change for the Slovokian.
“Obviously, I have never done this before. It's unusual in Slovakia to have this big school, and the campus is huge,” Strbak said. “So it's been a transition for sure, but I'm really excited to settle down, and I'm excited for this new season to start. It has been a busy summer. I’ve been at the combine, the draft, and the development camp, and then coming here all of a sudden, so it’s different. But like I said, it is still something that I am transitioning to.”
Michigan State Hockey also had five other players on their active roster attending developments camps accross the league this summer—sophomore forward Joey Larson, sophomore defenseman Viktor Hurtig, sophomore defenseman Matt Basgall, sophomore forward Isaac Howard and junior defenseman David Gucciardi.
Now that the fall semester is in full swing and hockey season is right around the corner, the team's focus is fully on the upcoming season.
With the announcement of being third in the Big Ten, and ninth nationally in the pre-season polls, the team has remained very humble, saying that the rankings are something they don’t think about. The Spartans wait until they get on the ice for their first game, and see what they can work on to get to that spot. The team was one place off in the rankings last year to make the post season, so MSU is looking to bring to heat this season.
“There is definitely excitement for sure, and we want to make sure we stay grounded,” said Nightingale. “We’ve talked a lot about tuning out the noise. We aren’t really worried about where we’re ranked or where we’re picked. We're going to go out and play and have a good practice, and keep that mindset of not worrying about today, and tomorrow will take care of itself.”
Michigan State will be back on the ice for its first game of the season on Saturday, Oct. 7 against Lake Superior State University at Munn Ice Arena at 4 p.m.
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