ANTIOCH – The MTSU hockey team kicked its season off with a bang on Friday night, downing the Vanderbilt Commodores 8-3 at Ford Ice Center.
“I think it all starts with how we have been preparing to start this season,” said MTSU captain Nathanael Wilson, who had three assists in the game. “From hanging with each other on campus to having dry land on non-practice days. I think it really helped us create some chemistry that translated over on the ice.”
It was a close game for the first two periods. It was tied 1-1 after the first, and MTSU held a 3-2 lead after the second. Then the Blue Raiders caught fire in the third period, reeling off five third-period goals to blow out their in-state rival.
“Oh it’s fantastic,” Wilson said. “Especially since they (Vanderbilt) are the other big college team in middle Tennessee. We’ve wanted to play them for the past couple years, but the scheduling just hasn’t worked out, so I was glad to get them on there this year. Having the big crowd there made it amazing as well, it definitely added to the hype.”
Nick Kristinus led the team with four goals and an assist for a five-point night, followed by Connor Linkowski, who scored two goals and added an assist. Patrick Shannon and Jacob Fink each added a goal and Shannon tallied an assist.
“It’s for sure a blast,” Wilson said. “When you can see that all of the hard work and dedication has paid off, it definitely makes it so much more fulfilling. I’m proud of the guys for working hard and keeping the foot on the gas pedal.”
As impressive as the MTSU offense was, Josh Freidenburger in goal was equally impressive. He stopped 57 of the 60 shots he faced, posting a .950 save percentage.
MTSU returns to the ice on Saturday, Sept. 29 against UMass Lowell at Ford Ice Center.
“(We just have to) keep the same mindset as before, go in every shift with 110 percent intensity and just work hard, and most importantly have fun,” Wilson said. “It should be a really good game against a big hockey school such as them.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @mpatrickg5 / Michael Gallagher / Murfreesboro Post