The Michigan State Spartans have come off yet another hot weekend against the Nittany Lions, where they took a tough shootout loss on night one, but came back on night two to land a 5-3 win.
The upcoming weekend sparks yet another big game where the No. 11 Spartans take on the current number one team in the country, the Wisconsin Badgers.
With an 8-3-1 record and being ranked No. 11 in the country, the Spartans knows that there is a job to get done for the weekend.
“We need to be harder at the puck,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “We were too much one and done at the puck offensively and also the way we manage the puck.”
Along with the help of the team, a big role that comes into play for the team is the help of the Spartan hockey fan base, which has grown immensely over the last year.
“I’m thankful for our fans. We’ve had unbelievable support,” Nightingale said. “We needed to do a better job (a year ago) of earning respect from our fans, and we have a passionate fanbase, and now this weekend will be sold out, so our guys are excited.”
As a fifth year graduate student, forward Nicolas Müller has some former experience against the Badgers over the years including their Big Ten leading squad in the 2021 season.
“My freshman and sophomore year the Badgers were really good,” Müller said. “I’ve seen some good Badgers teams. Obviously last year they had a down year, but we’re (the team) super excited to play them because they’ve had a good start.”
With another big weekend on the horizon, MSU isn’t quite focused on how the Badgers could bring the heat into Munn for the series, and more on themselves and what they can do to keep their eyes on the prize.
“I think we're focused on how we want to do it. They’ve (Wisconsin) done a great job, with the guys they have and the job they did in the portal, and the recruits are coming in. And their coach has a good track record winning games,” Nightingale said. “For us we’ve looked at their program and we’ve got a ton of respect for them but we’re focused on ourselves and I think every program has different challenges to get to where they want to get.
With a decently team defensively and offensively, the Spartans have gelled together, but they still know where their strengths lie and where their weaknesses lie. Senior defenseman and captain Nash Nienhuis sends the same message to the team every game in the locker room.
“Prepare the same way we’ve been preparing and build off every game, build off every practice,” Nienhuis said. “We know we have a good team but there's also a lot of work we can do, so we’re excited for this challenge coming up.”
In previous seasons, the Wisconsin Badgers have been on a rollercoaster of unknowns.
Last season ended sadly ended for them without any shot in the NCAA tournament after a losing record of 13-23-0 overall, but that didn’t stop the team this year as they have dove headfirst into this season with a 9-1-0 record over the past month and a half.
The only loss the Badgers have taken this season so far has been to No. 7 North Dakota, who were previously ranked in the top 5.
The team is currently undefeated in the Big Ten as they swept the Minnesota Golden Gophers the first weekend in Nov. on the road, and swept the University of Michigan at their home rink.
The puck drops for the first game on the series on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 6 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena. Both games will be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
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