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MSU hockey prepares for first round Frozen Four match against Western Michigan University

March 28, 2024
<p>Freshman goalie Trey Augustine (1) being announced for the starting lineup before a game against University of Michigan at Munn Ice Arena on March 23. 2024.</p>

Freshman goalie Trey Augustine (1) being announced for the starting lineup before a game against University of Michigan at Munn Ice Arena on March 23. 2024.

Photo by Donté Smith | The State News

The men's hockey NCAA Championships, more commonly known as the Frozen Four, is approaching for the Michigan State hockey team. The Spartans are in an effort to defeat the highly qualified and veteran team of the Western Michigan Broncos, a former CCHA rival from the pre-Big Ten men's hockey conference era. 

The performance of the Spartans in the Big Ten championship game showed the perseverance of the team. The Spartans worked hard non-stop to overcome an extra period of overtime hockey to defeat the Michigan Wolverines, giving the Spartans an automatic qualification into the Frozen Four, as well as a No. 1 seed in their region. But with the win in the championship game, the team has the mindset of putting the past weekend behind them and looking ahead to just this upcoming Friday game.

“I think we're kind of still all pretty dialed in, but yeah, it's obviously really exciting,” sophomore forward Tiernan Shoudy said. “It's something maybe our program hasn't had in a while. So we're all pretty juiced for it.”

The Spartans are appearing in the Frozen Four for the first time since 2012, creating yet another part of history in Michigan State's storybook season. Shoudy, who finished the season with 15 points off of four goals and 11 assists, said that it's "pretty special to be part of this group" of players and a team that's etched its name into the history of Spartan hockey.

A key performer this whole season has been freshman netminder Trey Augustine. As a goalie who has been known to keep his composure under high-pressure situations, Augustine is aware that he has the support of his team from all angles to help take the team to a victory.

“For me it’s all about focusing on the next play,” Augustine said. “Obviously what’s already happened is in the past and I can’t change that anymore. I’m just kind of focused on the next opportunity I have to make a positive impact on a game.”

Though the team may not have a top-10 goal scorer in the country that other teams have, the stability and flow of the team play that shows from the Spartans through all four lines continues to blossom and play an important role in every game, along with the growth of depth through the lines as well.

“I’m thankful for our depth for sure, we’ve found a way to score pretty consistently, and it might even be in the top 60 that we don’t have a guy,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “I think that speaks to our depth and I think the guys have done a great job embracing their roles and when their number is called. I think in tournaments and stuff like that, the depth is a huge thing.”

The regional round of the tournament will be played in Maryland Heights, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, and consists three teams from the state of Michigan: Michigan State, Western Michigan and the University of Michigan

Although the Spartans will not be on their home ice for the Munn crowd that has shown to be extraordinary throughout the regular season and the postseason, Nightingale knows the Michigan State crowd is one that travels well and will show out in the best possible way, even all the way to Missouri. 

Scouting Western Michigan

The Broncos showed dominance through their season, having a 21-15-1 overall record, along with a 11-13-0 conference record. Their conference season, however, came to a quick halt after losing in the NCHC quarterfinals in a three-game series against Minnesota St. Cloud State.

Western Michigan is headed to the St. Louis region of the tournament as a No. 4 seed, but being that seed doesn't define the talent being produced from Ferschweiler and his team.

The Broncos have a total of 15 seniors on the team, five of whom are graduate students at the university, as well as starting goalie Cameron Rowe, who performed as the season netminder. Their leading scorer, Luke Grainger, is also a senior and has had 13 goals and 47 points on the season, helping continue their season run into the tournament.

During the last two weekends of the regular season, the Broncos were swept by the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, losing night one 5-3 and were shutout on night two with a final score of 3-0. But they bounced back the final weekend against the University of Miami of Ohio, sweeping the team with a 3-2 score on night one and a dominant 6-1 win on night two.

The game between the Spartans and the Broncos will take place on Friday, March 29 at 5 p.m. at the Centene Community Ice Arena in Maryland Heights, Missouri. The game will be streamed on ESPNU and ESPN Plus. The winner will move on to play on Sunday against the winner of the University of Michigan-University of North Dakota game.

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