Oct. 9, 2012
East Lansing, Mich. - Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said he looked at Monday's 6-1 exhibition victory over Windsor as a 60-minute laboratory.
It was a time to mix and match players, experiment and learn more about his team, all the while trying to win the game.
For the most part, Anastos liked what he saw from the new-look Spartans, made up of 12 new players, including five on defense.
"We went into the game not certain what to expect and the one goal we've established is to go out and relentlessly compete. I thought we did that,'' Anastos said. "The takeaway from this is that it was an evaluation opportunity which is very valuable.
"We were using this as a kind of a lab.''
The Spartans, who got goals from six different players, set the tone early with an unassisted gift goal, off a forced turnover, by senior left wing Kevin Walrod 10 seconds after the opening faceoff.
"It surprised me a little bit,'' Walrod said of an errant Windsor pass from the right corner into the slot. "As soon as I got it on my stick, I just thought `shoot.'''
Walrod fired from 35 feet out and beat Lancers goalie Matt Murphy.
MSU scored three times in the first period, two in the second and one in the third.
The Lancers' only goal came early in the second period by forward Myles Doan, who scored shorthanded with on a shot from the left circle that eluded junior goaltender Will Yanakeff.
The Spartans open the regular season with a two-game nonconference series at Minnesota at 7 p.m. on Friday and 9 p.m. on Saturday. The Gophers are ranked No. 1 in the USA Today poll and No. 2 behind Boston College in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll. MSU is ranked No. 16 by USCHO.
"The most important thing from this game is we used it as an opportunity to give players experience and to evaluate where they are and where are (as a team) three days into the season,'' said Anastos, whose Spartans had two full practices on Saturday and two on Sunday.
"I liked a lot of different things. I liked how we competed and the way many of our players played. But we didn't move the puck particularly well, and that didn't surprise me.
"The speed of the games at Minnesota will be light years different that this game. Minnesota has a veteran team, based on speed and skill and that will be a completely different game.''
Hayes called the game and experience for the young players "a good step forward.''
"We got scoring from every line and we were always going and didn't hold back,'' he said. "We didn't play to maintain. We kept moving and working.
"But everyone in this locker room knows that we're going to have to take a giant step forward between now and Friday to compete with Minnesota. We're excited for the challenge but we have to take mental steps forward to compete.''
In goal, Yanakeff played the first two periods and made nine saves. Freshman Jake Hildebrand took over in the third period and stopped four shots.
MSU failed to convert on seven power-play chances and skated off three Windsor power plays.