Michigan State senior defenseman and alternate captain Travis Walsh said Friday night’s hockey game against the University of Maine at the Ice Breaker Tournament in Portland is going to be “awesome,” and he expects to be “emotional before the game.”
“It’s going to be a lot of fun. A lot of people are going to enjoy seeing Michigan State play Maine with all the history between my grandfather and father and all the great games they’ve had in the past. It’s going to be different to see Maine jerseys on the other side,” said the son of late former University of Maine coach Shawn Walsh.
Walsh transformed Maine from a doormat into a two-time NCAA champion before succumbing to complications from kidney cancer in 2001.
Former Michigan State coach Ron Mason is Travis Walsh’s grandfather and was his father’s coach and mentor.
There will be a lot of his friends and relatives in the stands at the Cross Insurance Arena for the 8 p.m. game, including his grandparents and mother, Tracey, who are flying in from Florida.
Walsh spent meaningful time in Maine this summer when he married his former Veazie neighbor Chelsea Hardy on July 25 in Surry. Her parents were friends of Shawn and Tracey Walsh, and he got to know Hardy well when he visited his step-mom, Lynne Vickery, at her home in Veazie.
“Fifteen of my teammates took a motor home to the wedding. It was pretty cool,” said Travis Walsh. “They really enjoyed it. A lot of them had never been to the ocean before.”
He also spent some time working out at Alfond Arena with some of UMaine’s freshmen.
“I developed some friendships, especially with the big forwards who will be coming down the ice and hitting me on Friday night,” quipped Walsh.
Walsh lived in Maine until he was 6. After his parents divorced, he moved back to Michigan with his brother Tyler Walsh and their mother. But he and his brother would spend their summers with their father.
He recalls running around Alfond Arena with his brother “doing whatever we wanted. Sometimes dad would let us out on the ice with the team. There were real good memories. His players were really good to us.”
Walsh also remembers watching the documentary “Out of the Woods” about Maine’s 42-1-2 NCAA championship season in 1992-93.
“I learned a lot about that team and got to see my father in action on the ice and in the locker room. It was pretty awesome,” said Walsh.
Travis Walsh has had a solid career at Michigan State.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder has played in 104 games and has posted two goals and 30 assists. He had two goals and 12 assists in 29 games last season. The second-team All-Big Ten selection missed the last six games with a broken jaw.
The 22-year-old Walsh said he inherited a number of things from his father including his exceptional work ethic and positive attitude.
“I wasn’t a great player growing up so I had to put a lot of work into it [to be successful],” he said. “And my dad always told my brother and me to stay positive and help other people. That was one of his big things.”
Walsh said the emotion of the evening will end when the puck drops.
“It’s a big game. It’s the first game of the year,” he said. “We have real high expectations. We want to make the NCAA tournament. We want to win the Big Ten … We’re going to treat every game like it’s the most important game of the season.”