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Preview: No. 7 MSU hockey heads to No. 8 Minnesota looking to right past losses

November 23, 2023
MSU players watch for the puck after a close call at the Spartans net during a game against University of Minnesota at Munn Ice Arena on Dec. 2, 2022. The Spartans lost to the Gophers with score 5-0.
MSU players watch for the puck after a close call at the Spartans net during a game against University of Minnesota at Munn Ice Arena on Dec. 2, 2022. The Spartans lost to the Gophers with score 5-0. —
Photo by Audrey Richardson | The State News

As the Spartans stroll off of a weekend sweep against formerly No. 1 ranked Wisconsin, the team heads off to Minnesota for the Thanksgiving weekend series against the Golden Gophers.

Being in first place in the Big Ten conference, MSU is currently two places ahead of the Golden Gophers in the league and one place ahead of them in the national polls. The weekend ahead of the Spartans is another big test.

"It's a huge weekend," sophomore forward Tiernan Shoudy said. "Last year they beat us five times by the end of their season ... We need some revenge for sure, and none of the games were very close I will say, so we have things to make up for from last year."

With the success thus far in the season, the Spartans have some everlasting confidence to take with them to the North Star State.

"We try to go into every weekend with confidence," junior forward Red Savage said. "All of the work over the summer and over the last couple months, it's starting to pay off."

And, for Savage, the former Olympic-sized rink at the University of Minnesota is a whole new ballgame for him.

"I've never played these guys before," Savage said. "I’ve never been to this arena, so I’ve heard a ton of great things, and it’s going to be a super exciting weekend."

The Spartans are building confidence, and the goal for them is to bring that feeling to Minnesota. For them, the emotions not only come from the team itself, but specifically from head coach Adam Nightingale.

"I think Coach Nightingale, first of all, is one of the big factors in this program," Savage said. "Obviously, they put a lot of money into the program as well, and into the locker room, and the support staff we have here is unreal. I think it’s the best place in the world to get to that next step."

The biggest goal of the team, with all of the improvement it's made as one of the youngest teams in college hockey, is to play the full 60 minutes and finish every game with the best effort.

"I think if you look back at the Penn State game, we didn’t finish it off at home, and you can either spiral or you can learn from it, and I thought we learned from it,” Nightingale said during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

The work from the team comes everyday at practice, continuing to improve daily to play to the best of their abilities, and Nightingale knows there is always work that can be done to get to the end goals that the team has for itself.

"I think the goal is to be the best you can be every day, and that’s the highest standard, and we’re really disciplined in that," Nightingale said. "You can't get caught up in things that happened in the past, and you can’t control the future. All you can control is now, and the guys have done a really good job of buying into that."

While the support of the crowd at Munn Ice Arena won't be at the away series this weekend, Nightingale talked about how appreciative he was of the crowd and the factor they played into the last weekend's series.

"We're super thankful for the support we got from our crowd," Nightingale said. "I thought the crowd was awesome both nights, and there’s a lot going on on campus, and I thought the Munnsters were awesome and really made a difference in the weekend for us."

The Spartans head to Mariucci Arena in Minnesota for a Friday night game on Nov. 24 at 8 p.m. ET on Big Ten Plus, and they round out the weekend on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network, when they hope to take another away sweep and get their revenge from last season's 0-5 record against Minnesota.

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