Monday, October 17, 2011

Michigan State Struggling at Start

Michigan State Football is off to a good start so far in 2011, having just bested rival Michigan for the fourth straight year.

MSU Hockey? Less so, as the Spartans are now 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (itself in its penultimate campaign) following a two-step sweep at Lake Superior State this past weekend. Both losses were by one goal (5-4, 3-2), the first one coming on a late tally by Domenic Monardo of the host Lakers, who are off to a 4-0 start for the first time in forever (okay, since 1995-96).

MSU returned three of its leading five scorers from last season, including captain and top-scoring blueliner Torey Krug. It did lose its No. 1 point-producer Derek Grant, who left East Lansing after just two college seasons to join Binghamton (AHL) last spring. The Spartans also returned both their netminders from last year in Drew Palmisano and Will Yanakeff.

The Spartan power play has connected three times in nine chances in the first four games this fall, and the penalty-killing unit has surrendered just one goal so far. So why just the one win to date?

It could just be a question of youth, with four freshmen and five sophomores having already skated this season for the Spartans. It could also be the fact that it's a new start for the program, with new systems and a new approach under a new head coach.

Former Spartan skater and CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos picked up his first win as MSU's new head coach with State's 3-2 overtime victory over Air Force at the Ice Breaker Tournament on Oct. 8 in North Dakota, with sophomore forward Lee Reimer scoring the tying and winning goals, and Yanakeff making 26 saves. Anastos will be looking for his first official victory at MSU's Munn Ice Arena this Thursday and Friday as the Spartans try to get back on track against CCHA (and future Big Ten Conference) rival Ohio State (2-2 overall, 1-1 CCHA), which just split a two-game series with Notre Dame.

The Spartans will then finish up the month at home against Robert Morris. Time for MSU to go right through, as its fight song says - or at least, get going with some wins.

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