At last year’s postseason press conference, Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos said that he would include a wide variety of non-conference teams for the Spartans to play in the upcoming seasons. Now with the official 2014-15 hockey schedule released, the Spartans boast a strong but flexible schedule that even Tom Izzo would be proud of.
MASSACHUSETTS (Oct. 17-18)
The Minutemen finished 8-22-4 overall last season, including a dismal 7-7 away record. However, they thrashed MSU last season in their home opener 3-1, and 5-1 in the second game. Granted, the Spartans had a rough start last season that was riddled with injuries. This year however MSU should be at full strength and ready to turn the tables on Massachusetts in their home opener Oct. 17.
Boston University (Oct. 24)
The first road game for the Spartans should be interesting, while the Terriers finished with a disappointing 10-21-4 last season, they were a tough team to play against. Michigan State stole a victory from BU last season in a 2-1 come from behind victory. If the Spartans play a full 60 minutes they should be able to walk away with three points.
UMass-Lowell (Oct. 25)
Probably the second best non-conference team the Spartans will play this year, UMass-Lowell finished 26-11-4 last year and fell just shy of the Frozen Four. The last time these two teams met, the Red Hawks pounded the Spartans in East Lansing 4-1. MSU will look to return the favor this year against the Red Hawks, but it will by no means be an easy task.
FERRIS STATE (Oct. 31-Nov. 1, Dec. 28)
The Bulldogs are the only non-conference team from Michigan that the Spartans are guaranteed to play this year other than the University of Michigan. Last season, the Bulldogs got the better of MSU in a 2-0 contest. Fate may be a bit kinder to Michigan State this year, they play Ferris three times this season instead of once, twice in East Lansing and once at Joe Louis Arena in the Great Lakes Invitational.
New Hampshire (Nov. 7-8)
This is a team that is kind of out of left field, but regardless, New Hampshire cannot be written off. The Wildcats finished with a 22-18-1 record and tied for fourth in the Hockey East conference. This is a solid hockey team that is more skilled than BU, but not as much as UMass-Lowell or Boston College. The Wildcats and the Spartans seem to just about be evenly matched, so if MSU plays solid hockey then they should pick up at least one game of this series.
BOSTON COLLEGE (Nov. 14)
The true David vs. Goliath battle comes to East Lansing, as MSU will play host to Boston College. BC finished with a 28-8-4 regular season record as well as a Frozen Four appearance last year. However, Michigan State has proven they can upset top teams at home with last season’s Big Ten home opener against No.1 Minnesota. This will likely be the toughest challenge for Anastos and his Spartans.
Princeton (Nov. 28-29)
Last year, the Tigers were routed by MSU in both contests in East Lansing. Princeton has not appeared to have made any major improvements this year, so it is likely the Spartans will continue their dominance of the series as it moves out to New Jersey.
CLARKSON (Dec. 14)
The Clarkson Golden Knights will head to East Lansing to round off the Spartans’ non-conference schedule. The Golden Knights finished 21-17-4 last year and a couple of spots below MSU in the final NCAA rankings. This should be a nice game for the Spartans to lead into the heart of Big Ten play.
Jason Ruff is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.
Photo: Jonathan Yales/Impact Sports