Adam Nightingale has Michigan State hockey buzzing ahead of the Spartans’ toughest tests of the young season.
When Adam Nightingale was hired back in May to take charge of the Michigan State hockey program, many thought there was a long road ahead to get the team back to what it was in years past.
The national championship run back in 2007 was just a distant memory and the program had hit a bit of a lull at the end of the Danton Cole era. Change was needed for sure and those who follow hockey knew just how difficult the road ahead would be to tear down and rebuild the program into a contender.
He had just recently taken over the US National Developmental Program team and earned the US a silver medal at the 2022 World Under 18 tourney. The opportunity to take over his alma mater’s program was too good to pass up and he decided to take over as head coach of Michigan State. He vowed to rework the program and not only hope to turn it back into a competitor on the ice but make it a great place for players to further themselves academically and in the community as well.
With an emphasis on recruiting, Nightingale laid the plans for his path at MSU and began getting to work.
Most people thought the culture shift he would bring to the team would take shape eventually but few imagined the impact he’d have would be felt this immediately.
After a slow start to begin the season, MSU has started running on all cylinders, winning seven of its eight games in November including sweeps of weekend series over Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Miami (OH). The stellar play of late has gotten MSU some national notice as they have recently climbed up to No. 13 in the USCHO poll, No. 11 in the USA Today Poll, and No. 7 in the Pairwise Rankings.
MSU will need to keep the great play going if it wants to continue climbing up the rankings, however. In what will definitely be the toughest four games so far this season, the Spartans’ pre-Christmas schedule kicks off this weekend as they will welcome the Minnesota Golden Gophers to Munn for games Friday and Saturday night. After the two games against the Gophers, the Spartans will have one more series before the Christmas break on Dec. 10-11 against the school down the road. Dec. 10’s game will be held at Munn and then the Spartans will travel to Ann Arbor on Dec. 11 to complete the home-and-home.
Minnesota and Michigan rank Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, in the USCHO poll and are going to pose a very formidable test for Nightingale and the Spartans. Minnesota coming off a split with Arizona State recently will be looking to regain some momentum before the holiday and Michigan is coming off a road series split with Notre Dame. With three of those four games at Munn, hopefully the Spartans can benefit from some home cooking.
If the Spartans are going to keep up their winning ways, goaltender Dylan St. Cyr figures to be a key as to why. The grad transfer standout is coming off a big shutout against Miami (OH) and will need to continue his superb play against the Gophers.
Whether MSU can continue this pace or not, it’s clear that Nightingale’s tenure is starting off the right way. Recruiting has taken a big upswing and the new-look Munn Arena is turning a lot of heads. Hopefully these changes to MSU’s program will continue to be well received by the fans and we can continue watching a great product on and off the ice.
Anyone with some free time this weekend should definitely get to campus to check out the games and support the program. Hopefully we can get Munn packed for some great hockey this weekend.