After an eventful weekend at Munn Ice Arena, the No. 11 Michigan State Spartans pulled off a sweep against the No. 1 team in the country, the University of Wisconsin. Saturday's win marked the Spartan's first series sweep over a top-ranked team in over a century.
It was clear to see the progress in the MSU skaters over the Wisconsin series, but the one player who truly shined over the weekend was true freshman goalie Trey Augustine.
Augustine tallied a total of 60 saves on the weekend and had over a .92 save percentage both nights of play against the No. 1 ranked Badgers.
Augustine, who was drafted in the second round of the 2023 NHL draft by the Detroit Red Wings, has started in net for every game except one for MSU through the first part of the season. He has also already logged his first shutout win, and the freshman continues to improve through his 60 minutes of ice time.
“I think he's been getting better and better as the seasons went on,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “If you look at true freshman goaltenders, there’s not a ton of them. It’s been an adjustment, but I thought each game he’s gotten better, and that was one (game) where he was probably our best player.”
Prior to coming to MSU, Augustine had a career with the National Team Development Program (NTDP) under head coach Adam Nightingale, and from there, Augustine knew that his decision was finalized. As well as playing against other national teams, he had the opportunity play against different college teams during his experience at the NTDP to dip his toe into playing college hockey — including a game he won playing against MSU.
“You have to get used to college hockey,” Augustine said. “Obviously it’s a little bit different than juniors and some of the college games I played last year. Every night everyone is going to bring their best, so you just kind of have to adapt to that.”
Augustine credits his defensive efforts between the pipes to his teammates and what they can do to help him defend the goal from opposing teams while they get a stick in to help block the puck, or even coming down on the rush to block the opponents to prevent shots from reaching him.
“It’s a team effort,” Augustine said. “Obviously the D-men (defensemen) have to do their job as well and the forwards have to come back and support, so it’s a whole team effort.”
The Spartans are a young team who are ever evolving, and Augustine has shown his strengths through Big Ten play and has been the backbone for the team. The composure the 18-year-old shows week in and week out in net is comparable to that of veteran goalies, and his impact on the Spartan squad cannot be understated.
“He’s (Augustine) unreal,” senior captain and defenseman Nash Nienhuis said. “He’s an elite goalie, obviously we all can see that. He’s a great person too, and I think it’s just kind of getting some college touches in for him. As a freshman it’s a little tough, but he’s done a great job acclimating and we’re lucky to have him.”
Through the Wisconsin sweep Augustine put up a fight, as a result he was awarded the first star of the game by being the brick wall the team knows him to be.
“We just know he’s a rock in the net and he’s gonna make the save when we need him to, and it just gives us (the team) confidence having him back there,” Nienhuis said
The Spartans go back to action Thanksgiving weekend on Friday Nov. 24 at 8 p.m., and on Sunday Nov. 26 at 2 p.m., where they look to take a sweep against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Mariucci Arena.
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