Three takeaways from the Green and White game

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Spartan hockey team hosted their annual Green and White scrimmage on Wednesday at Munn Ice Arena. Team Green beat Team White 3-2 in this year’s preseason hockey scrimmage. Team White, however, won the final shoot out 1-0 in three rounds.

Fans were treated to a first look at the Spartans under first-year head coach Danton Cole. Below are my three “way too early” takeaways from the Spartans as they head into their exhibition matchup against Toronto this Saturday.

 


Brennan Sanford may be on the rise

 

Junior forward Brennan Sanford had a strong night offensively for Team Green, notching two goals in the first half of play. The first goal was on a breakaway, as Sanford split two defensemen and rifled a shot upstairs to break open the scoring. His second goal came from the left-hand side of the ice as he skated down the wing and took a shot that beat goaltender Spencer Wright below the glove.

Cole mentioned that Sanford, who has won the fitness award multiple times over the past season, will be relied upon more for his leadership this season than his goal-scoring ability.

“His leadership is going to be important. If there are a couple freshmen who are struggling, he might play with them,” Cole said.

The Spartans will need every player to show up and contribute, including Sanford. Cole emphasized this point by saying “our 24 have to be better than their six.”


Crisp passing

Too many times last season, the passing by Michigan State was subpar. Few passes were tape-to-tape and were either too far in front or too far behind the player in stride.

During the Green and White Game, the passes were much better. While there were still several errant passes, many more were right on the tape and could be caught in stride. Even when the pass was a little too hot to handle, there was usually a man there to pick the puck back up.

Cole and the players talked afterwards about “making mistakes hard,” meaning that it was okay to make mistakes while going 100 percent, as those errors are fixable. The passing seems to be an early indicator of that philosophy.


There is a new vibe in the Spartan locker room

Speaking with the coaches and players after the game, one could not help but notice the different tone that was prevalent throughout. Whether it was Cole talking about line combinations or players talking about teaching moments, you could tell that this group was eager to start the season and that they are  confident that the coaching staff will help them improve over the course of the season.

Hockey is, in a lot of ways, a mental game as much as a physical one. Right now, the Spartans are in a good place physiologically. They are confident that they will get better over the course of the year and that they will start seeing results. It shouldn’t be long before that confidence and anticipation in the locker room seeps up into the seats at Munn Arena.

The Spartans will play the University of Toronto this Saturday at Munn in exhibition play. Face-off is set for 2:00 p.m. EST.