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Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

Michigan State University Student Radio

Impact 89FM | WDBM-FM

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PREVIEW: Michigan State hockey prepping for first round NCAA Tournament matchup against Western Michigan

MSU+freshman+defender+Patrick+Geary+%282%29+celebrates+with+sophomore+forward+Tiernan+Shoudy+%2813%29+after+a+Spartan+goal+in+a+5-4+overtime+victory+over+Michigan+for+the+B1G+Championship+on+Saturday%2C+Mar.+23%2C+2024+at+Munn+Ice+Arena.+%28Avery+Kotel%29
MSU freshman defender Patrick Geary (2) celebrates with sophomore forward Tiernan Shoudy (13) after a Spartan goal in a 5-4 overtime victory over Michigan for the B1G Championship on Saturday, Mar. 23, 2024 at Munn Ice Arena. (Avery Kotel)

EAST LANSING – Michigan State hockey will compete in the NCAA Hockey Tournament for the first time since 2012, fresh off of winning their first Big Ten Tournament title in program history.

The Spartans earned the fourth No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and will face off against Western Michigan in the Maryland Heights Regional Semifinal on Friday, March 29. North Dakota and Michigan also highlight the region.

“We’re focused on the first game, one game shot anything can happen, I’m excited for our guys to earn this opportunity and take advantage of it,” said MSU head coach Adam Nightingale.

Western Michigan enters the tournament with a 21-15-1 record on the season and finished sixth in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference with an 11-13-0 conference record.

The Broncos currently boast the 11th-best scoring defense, allowing 2.49 goals per game. The Spartans and Broncos rank among the best in the nation in scoring offense with MSU ranking seventh and Western Michigan ranking ninth.

“[Western Michigan] competitive, they score, they’re one of the highest scoring teams in the country, they play heavy, those are all qualities of a really good team. There’s a reason they’ve had the season they’ve had,” said Nightingale.

Western Michigan does an excellent job on the penalty kill. The Broncos are 12th in the country in penalty-kill percentage. This will be a key for the Broncos against the Spartans on power plays, as MSU ranks seventh in power play percentage.

Players to watch for Western Michigan include senior forward Sam Colangelo and junior forward Dylan Wendt, who lead the Broncos in goals with 23.

Key players to watch for MSU include freshman goaltender Trey Augustine, senior defenseman Nash Nienhuis, and sophomore forward Daniel Russell, who all had impactful performances in the Big Ten Tournament.

“It feels great, we put a ton of work in this year and to see how that played out is great,” said MSU senior defenseman Nash Nienhuis.

Senior forward Jeremy Davidson and sophomore defenseman Matt Basgall, who were both crucial down the stretch in the overtime win against Michigan, will also be players to watch.

The key for the Spartans will be to take advantage of power play opportunities against a Western Michigan unit that excels on the penalty kill.

The Spartans will look to capture their first NCAA Tournament win since 2008. Puck drop is set for 5 p.m. at Centene Community Ice Center.

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About the Contributor
Caden Handwork
Caden is a sophomore journalist from Gross Pointe, Mich. He is the host of the Hedging the Bet podcast and a general assignment reporter for Impact 89FM.

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