Calgary, Alberta is a long ways away from East Lansing -- nearly 2,000 miles to be exact -- but Taro Hirose will make that trip to his new home in East Lansing next fall as a member of the highly touted MSU Hockey incoming freshman class.
Hirose will join a pair of Canadians on the 2016-17 Spartans as a versatile forward who can play at both ends of the rink. Hirose recently finished up his second season with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), and is excited about joining MSU next season.
He recently joined Spartan Nation Radio with Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. to talk about being a Spartan.
“I just think the way (head coach) Tom (Anastos) coaches the team,” Hirose said when asked what brought him to MSU. “They play a game style that’ll fit my game really nicely and I think from what he’s told me that I’m going to get a chance to play, which is definitely big in my book. I want the chance to impact the team.”
Hirose led his team in scoring in both of his two seasons with the Silverbacks with 50 points (18-32-50) in 58 games in 2014-15 and 71 points (15-56-71) in 58 games this season. He ranked 13th in total points and fourth in assists in the BCHL this season.
Hirose’s 56 assists this past season highlighted his passing ability, something he believes is possibly his strongest asset on the ice.
“I make the players around me better for sure, and I’m definitely a high (level) passer and like to put the puck in the net when I get the chance,” Hirose said. “... Last year I had some good linemates so they made it easy, so I know at the next level the guys at Michigan State that I’ve seen are great players and they’ll make it easy for me too.”
Outside of having the ability to consistently make tape-to-tape passes, Hirose is also known for his aggressive style of play. Despite being listed at only 5-foot-10, 150 pounds, Hirose isn’t afraid of contact, stating he doesn’t like to be just a “skill player” and play the game at a high level at both ends of the ice.
“I definitely like to play that 200 foot game,” Hirose said. “I know my coaches in the past have said that’s something they like about me. That I can take hits and make hits, and that physical contact doesn’t effect my game too much.”
For Hirose to continue his aggressive physical style he knows he’ll have to bulk up some before stepping on campus in the fall. He said getting stronger and adding muscle mass is something he’s focused on doing in the off-season in preparation for the college level.
Once he’s on campus he’ll get the opportunity to work with a MSU coaching staff rich in NHL experience, which is something he’s very excited about. Anastos and assistant coaches Tom Newton and Kelly Miller all have NHL experience, and Hirose believes they’ll each be able to help him elevate his game to reach the professional level.
“It’s definitely nice having that coaching staff that’s been at the next level and knows what it takes,” Hirose said. “They’ll push you everyday because they know the habits you need to have to make it to the next level. So that’s definitely something big that I looked into when I was looking to come to this school.”