Written By Josh Price
Michigan State University is a school that is known mostly for its basketball teams. Students pack bars or huddle around a friendâ€™s television to watch every game. This year though, there is another squad that is turning some heads in the middle of March: the hockey team.
The beginning of the season was tough for the menâ€™s team. They were plagued by injuries, played inconsistently, and many thought that this year was going to be a repeat of the previous two. Luckily the Spartans came out to play in the second half of the season, having all their players healthy and not looking back as they defeated one opponent after the next. Leading the charge were junior forward Drew Miller and freshman goaltender Jeff Lerg. Also aiding the streaking skaters was the extraordinary play of a barrage of young players who showed skill well beyond their years.
While the team was steadily improving, the amount of recognition they received around campus was minimal. Basketball still received the majority of the publicâ€™s attention. And even more puzzling was the fact that Munn Arena continued to struggle to fill to capacity night in and night out. While one of the hottest teams in the nation was strutting around the middle of East Lansing, the support they received unacceptable. That all changed soon enough.
The one way to steal any Spartanâ€™s heart was to win a championship. The hockey team did just that by winning the CCHA tournament and solidifying themselves in the public eye. All of a sudden, there was a new contender to watch on the weekends.
Hockey was now making the front page of every local newspaper and every game was on the big screen of every local bar. The teamâ€™s success (along with an early NCAA Tournament exit for the menâ€™s basketball team) made them the new favorites in East Lansing. In the basement of Rickâ€™s or the bar at Crunchies, students could be found packed to capacity and cheering on their newfound source of pride and enthusiasm. People finally believed in their hockey team, a program known for its great success.
The announcement of the Spartans receiving a no.1 seed in the NCAA tournament only stirred the pot even more. During the first weekend of the tournament, MSUâ€™s game could be heard at any business in the Lansing-area. Bars had the game on almost every television, bookstores showed the coverage, and even grocery stores had the play by play on the radio. Above all, the Spartan hockey team finally got local television coverage, something that it has rarely received in the past
The young stars of the Michigan State hockey team deserve much credit for the communityâ€™s new source of pride. No matter how good the team may be, much of the success should also be attributed to head coach Rick Comley. In his third year at the helm and already known as a Northern Michigan University legend, he has pushed the right buttons to make this team great. Itâ€™s no easy task taking over for a coaching great like Ron Mason. Comley received much criticism early on in the season, but stayed the course and led his team to one of the hottest streaks the USA has ever seen. With Comleyâ€™s coaching prowess and the young talented players, the Michigan State hockey team should be a fan favorite for many years to come.