Michigan State hockey’s annual Green versus White game is a fun fall kickoff event for the upcoming season, but for a few players, it is an extraordinary opportunity.
Junior defenseman Joel Arseneault never expected to play on a Division I hockey team. Before college he made a few junior teams, but decided to further his education over hockey. He received an academic scholarship to Michigan State, and decided to join the club hockey team during the 2014-15 season to stay on the ice.
Club hockey head coach Jim Martin and a few members of the varsity team staff select a handful of club hockey players to fill out the rosters for the Green versus White game.
“They would typically send their coaches to our tryout. So they would make notes and say here are the guys we thought looked good in your tryouts, they just this year called and asked me to send some names,” Martin said.
“It was my first year and I got called up to the Green and White game and fortunately for me they had a transfer, and they needed to fill a position,” Arseneault said. “They didn’t want to use up scholarship money to get someone from juniors to come in and I was already going to school here so they asked me if I wanted to join. I took the opportunity to see if I could further my skill level.”
Arseneault thinks he was selected last year for varsity for a combination of reasons. He took advantage of the opportunities to impress, including the Green and White game. And when there was a roster opening, as the Spartans needed a defenseman, he was ready.
Ultimately, he didn’t see varsity playing time, but the experience was unforgettable during the 2015-16 season.
“I just made a bunch of best friends out there. It is a tight knit group and I still keep in touch will all of them,” Arseneault said. “I was talking with coach (Tom Anastos) at the end and he said I definitely progressed a lot more than they had hoped.”
While rare, Arseneault is not the only player to make the jump to varsity.
“We have had a couple kids they have called up kind of the same thing where they go up for a year, kind of play with them for a year and that. Usually that is when there is a shortage or something on their team for a year. An injury, a transfer, a gap in recruiting something like that,” Martin said.
Alongside Arseneault five other players from the club hockey team were selected to play in this year’s game. Andrew Rosa, Alexander Sauchak, Jack Tobiczyk, Jacob Stallings, and Brian Kearns were not only given the opportunity to play in the game, but go through a standard game day routine with the varsity players and staff.
“It was a full day event, we had a morning skate I think at 9:30. After that we went to the Kellogg Center for a pregame meal with the team and the coaches,” said Sauchak.
Team Green defeated team White 5-2 in this year’s game. The club hockey players were split between both teams, but the line of Sauchak, Tobiczyk, and Kearns on team White impressed finishing as three of the only four players that were positive on the team.
This season it seems unlikely a player will receive a call up. Arsenault has also returned to play with the club hockey team, with teammates excited to have him back as a leader.
“I definitely look up to him as a leader, especially in that green and white game since we were rotating defensemen… In the first warm ups he game me a lot of advice, he told me what I should expect and I took that to heart. He is a good leader he knows what he is doing and I should probably listen to what he has to say,” said freshman Andrew Rosa.