After a hard-fought series against Air Force, No. 8 Michigan State Hockey returns to Munn Ice Arena to face off against the Canisius Golden Griffins. This will mark the first ever meeting between these two teams.
Michigan State suffered their first loss of the season on the road against Air Force on night one, falling short 6-5, and then came back in a big way to take game two with a 5-3 win to earn the split. The Spartans remained ranked eighth in the USCHO poll and dropped to nine in the USA Hockey poll.
“If you look across the scores from college hockey, there are no easy nights,” head coach Adam Nightingale said. “I thought the guys did a good job, even in [the first game], to try to get back to our game.”
Sophomore Joey Larson took the team lead in points with a hat trick in game two against Air Force. Larson is the first player in the conference to have a hat trick so far this season. He has three goals and four assists on the season for seven points.
Looking ahead to the weekend, the Spartans remain focused on their work so far this season. Offensively, the Spartans look strong, with 19 Spartans having at least one point in four games. However, the team is still looking to build on their skills and working towards smoothing out any mistakes. Alternate captain Matt Basgall emphasized that the team is still young and working to play for the whole 60 minutes, fighting every shift regardless of the score.
“We do have a lot of talent in the locker room,” Basgall said. “The guys have done a good job of keeping that chip and having that mindset that we’re gonna play hard and be a tough team to play against.”
Canisius arrives in East Lansing after being swept by Miami Ohio in their opening weekend. The Falcons have three ex-Spartans that will be returning to Munn to face off against some of their former teammates. Griffin Loughran, who transferred at the end of the 2021-22 season, Powell Connor and Kyle Haskins, who both transferred after last season. All three will be looking to score their first points of the season.
Overall, the Golden Griffins have four players with points after their season opening series. Seniors Randy Hernadez (1-1-2) and Jackson Decker (0-2-2) were the only players to put up a multi-point performance for the weekend. The team played aggressively in the first outing which resulted in a total of eight penalties and 27 minutes on the penalty kill.
“We study our opponent, but our job is to be the best version of ourselves,” Nightingale said. “The plan is for us to go play our games on the weekend.”
This matchup will be very telling for both teams, as Michigan State still works to build up their young team and get players comfortable, and Canisius is in search of their first victory of the season.
The series will be held Thursday and Friday night at 7pm.