Michigan State hockey

© MATTHEW DAE SMITH/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Adam Nightingale has Michigan State Hockey buzzing ahead of toughest tests of the season

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.

Enter, Nightingale.

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.

Michigan State hockey

© MATTHEW DAE SMITH/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Adam Nightingale and the resurgence of Michigan State hockey

Adam Nightingale was hired to turn the Michigan State hockey program around and he’s off to a running start.

When is the last time anyone has been excited to hear about what Michigan State hockey is doing? The magical run of that 2007 National Championship team is a distant memory. Recruiting had fallen flat.

Something had to give.

With the renovation of Munn Arena nearly complete, Michigan State is once again the talk around college hockey. It certainly has been a while. I, for one, can’t remember being this excited about a coaching hire like Adam Nightingale. The excitement was there with Danton Cole, but that excitement quickly faded after the losses piled up. This included embarrassing blowout losses to arch-rival Michigan.

Michigan State was in the cellar where they had been for the final few years of Tom Anastos. Spartan hockey fans have been patient — maybe a bit too patient — waiting on results.

In came Nightingale. Vowing to return Spartan hockey to national prominence, he got right to work. He hit the recruiting trail hard. In Nightingale’s first season, by god, the results are there.

I know, I know, small sample size but when is the last time we saw this team compete? In the last two seasons combined, the Spartans won 11 total games. Through 12 games this season, the Spartans have eight in the win column, including a four-game win streak and a recent sweep of 10th-ranked Ohio State. They also sit atop the conference with a respectable 4-1-1 record.

We will certainly find out what Nightingale’s team is made of in the next few series, starting with a two-game set at No. 6 Penn State this weekend followed by a visit to Miami (OH) next weekend.

Can the Spartans compete with the big boys (i.e. Minnesota, Michigan)? The jury is still out on Nightingale. Can he turn this program around? Only time will tell. But as of now, he’s got this team on the right track.

If he can get his team to compete and finish strong, the sky’s the limit.