After falling in a tough series against Boston College, the Michigan State hockey team is going back on the road and preparing for its first Big Ten match-up against the No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes.
The team dropped slightly in the polls this week leading up to the conference matchup to No. 12 in the USA Hockey and the USCHO polls, but the Spartans are looking to make another climb following their upcoming series in Columbus.
“We have to bring our A-game,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “We had a really good week of practice this week, and we identified things that we want to work on. We had some hard meetings this week, and that is because we care and we want to help the guys get better and live in the real.”
While the future still looks bright for the team, the discussion now is whether the approach going forward changes and what comes next with one of the most important games of their season coming into the line of sight for the green and white.
“I don’t think our approach or mindset changes,” Nightingale said. “I think the guys are obviously excited. We get to play in a great league and there are no nights off, but it’s a blessing for sure.”
While the approach does not change, there are things that the team is looking to clean up on behind the scenes.
“I think a big thing for us is shutting down plays,” sophomore forward Karsen Dorwart said. “We are really needing to limit them to half the ice and not let them get in the middle of the rush.”
On the road, MSU is currently 1-3, after a split against the Air Force Academy and the tough sweep to BC, but the team is heading to Ohio State with the same home game mindset—sweep the series.
“I think the expectation is going in (to a series) you always want to sweep,” Dorwart said. “You’re going against a team with their home crowd, so you have to try and get the fans out of it early.”
As the program heads quickly in the right direction even despite the Boston College sweep, there is still room for improvement and the Spartans have high ceiling to reach for.
“We are getting everyone's best every game,” Dorwart said. “That’s the exciting thing, is you want to be the best of the best and you’re only going to get better.”
MSU is young, and that means they have time to grow and then prepare to play their best game against OSU with their heads held high.
“We’ve got a long way to go to where we want to be,” sophomore forward Isaac Howard said. “When meaningful games come later in the season you can learn from that, so I think it is important to just keep growing every week.”
The Ohio State ice hockey team currently sits at a record of 3-1-3 in their game play of the season thus far.
Like MSU, a majority of their games have been out of conference, aside from their biggest rivalry game being played early in the season against the University of Michigan, where they lost in night one with a score of 7-1 and won in an overtime shoot out the following night.
The team lost a few seniors last year, as well as underclassmen to the transfer portal and to the NHL, but the Buckeyes have managed to remain a top 20 team, currently at No. 13 ranked in the country right behind MSU.
The Spartans head down to Columbus for an exciting two day series matchup in conference against the Buckeyes on Friday Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. and Saturday Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. Both games will be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
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