On Tuesday, Michigan State men’s ice hockey coach Tom Anastos had his first weekly press conference of the season. During the conference, Anastos gave some insight on last week’s practice schedule and the Spartans’ simulated road trip.
Last weekend’s practices (which were open to the public) were very up-tempo and very productive, according to Anastos.
“I dont know if it was the timing of them, or when you have an audience guys have a little extra jump in their step […] but they were very competitive,” Anastos said.
It seems that the Spartans are very enthusiastic to get the season started, and while it is still early to make a definitive assessment, Anastos likes the way his team is shaping up.
“I like the chemistry that’s building amongst the team. I like the leadership that is emerging on the team,” Anastos said. “The next step for us, frankly, is to continue to gain experience, and with that have some success to build confidence.”
It appears that the off-ice team building activities are starting to pay much-needed dividends for the Spartans.
The Spartans start their 2014-15 season with their home opener against the University of Massachusetts Minutemen on Friday. It will be the first time in Anastos’ tenure at MSU that the Spartans have started a season on home ice.
Personnel wise, Jake Hildebrand will be the confirmed starter in net for the Spartans. Anastos has decided to take a “wait and see” approach for junior defenseman John Draeger, who missed the exhibition game against Windsor.
“We’re still following Johny Draeger’s conditioning and where he’s at and whether or not he’ll be ready to play or not on the weekend. It’s still to early to tell,” Anastos said.
Four Big Ten teams, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin, are ranked in the top 20 according to the latest USCHO poll. While Coach Anastos does see it as motivation, his team’s focus is on getting better each day and building towards a top 20 ranking.
“I think if we have the maturity to do that… Yeah, why not us?” Anastos said.
Jason Ruff is the host of Behind the Mask for Impact Sports
Photo: Brian Bobal/Impact Sports