After having last weekend off, the Spartans will return to the ice this weekend to welcome the University of New Hampshire to Munn Arena. The Spartans are 5-7 all time against the Wildcats and 2-1 at home. The two teams split this series last season with the Spartans winning the first game 4-3 and losing 5-2 in the second game.
New Hampshire will bring plenty of offensive firepower to East Lansing this weekend. The Wildcats roster is filled with prolific scorers including Tyler Kelleher and Andrew Poturalski, who sit atop the nation in their ability to put the puck in the net. Kelleher currently has three goals and 10 assists in six games played while Poturalski has five goals and seven assists in the same amount of games.
“Playing solid in our defensive zone and trying to move the puck out of our defensive zone as fast as possible,” defenseman Travis Walsh said on how the Spartans can slow down the Wildcat attack. “The less time we spend in there the less damage they’re gonna do.”
Obviously, slowing down this Wildcat attack will be key if the Spartans want to come away with wins this weekend and they have the defensive numbers to do so. The Spartans currently sit 23rd in the nation in terms of team defense, allowing 2.5 goals per game.
This is a series the Spartans will need to do well in as they look to rebound from a disappointing split with Lake Superior State two weeks ago. They have used those two weeks in order to get healthy and the players have had plenty of opportunities to gel and work on their game.
At his weekly press conference, coach Tom Anastos preached the fact that these were not the same Spartans we saw two weeks ago.
“I don’t think that game was representative of how this team will play, I really don’t. We were missing key guys and I didn’t think we had good rhythm,” Anastos said. “The night before we were two uptight with the way we played. Guys were overhyped being home for the first time and wanting make a good impression. We just made so many unforced and forced errors of the nature that were fatal. That’s not typical of how we are.”
As the Spartans enter the month of November they really delve into the toughest part of their non-conference schedule. They have New Hampshire this weekend and will follow that up with a single road game against No. 3 Boston College, a home series with Michigan Tech and another home series with No. 1 North Dakota.
Doing well in this weekend’s series could help the Spartans get on the right track for when they start to face the nation’s toughest teams.
“I think it’s really important to get off to a good start a home,” Walsh said. “Get the crowd behind us with the students and everything. For our team confidence wise, we want to have a good start here against UNH and just feel good about the season.”