Icers Set To Battle Arch-Rival Michigan

Oct. 20, 2005

East Lansing, Mich. - Michigan State men's hockey returns to regular season action and kicks off CCHA play on Saturday, Oct. 22 at arch-rival Michigan. The game will be televised by Comcast; the broadcast will be delayed until 9:30 p.m., but will be shown in its entirety. Sophomore forward Bryan Lerg (Livonia, Mich.), whose father starred for Michigan from 1977-1980, leads the Spartans into Ann Arbor with a 1-3-4 scoring line. Saturday's contest marks the 255th meeting between the two storied programs; the Wolverines hold a slight 128-113-13 advantage in the all-time series.


The Spartans picked up an exhibition win over Western Ontario on Friday, Oct. 16. Sophomore forwards Peder Skinner (0-2-2) and Bryan Lerg (1-1-2) paced the Green and White offensive attack with two points each. After outshooting the Mustangs, 23-1, and being held scoreless in the opening stanza, Lerg put MSU on top with a goal 3:04 into the second period. The two teams entered the third period tied at two, before a Colton Fretter power-play goal, 0:45 into the frame, gave the Spartans the lead for good. Senior captain Drew Miller added an empty net goal to cap the scoring.


Michigan enters the weekend 4-0-0, following a weekend sweep of Hockey East opponents Boston College and Merrimack. The Wolverines lost half of their roster to graduation and/or early defection, after last season, and will skate 11 freshmen on a nightly basis. Veterans Matt Hunwick and T.J. Hensick have taken over the leadership roles, on the scoresheet and in the locker room. In just four games Hunwick has posted a 3-6-9, while Hensick boasts 2-8-10. Freshman Billy Sauer has carried the load in net for the Maize and Blue allowing six goals in three starts this season.


With a 2-0-0 start the Spartans are off to their best start since the 1997-98 season, when they also started 2-0-0 with wins over Boston University and Wisconsin. Michigan State won six of its first seven games and 16 of its first 19 that season, en route to an NCAA tournament bid.


Freshman forward Justin Abdelkader scored the first goal of his career in the first period against Wayne State. Abdelkader, a second round pick of the Detroit Red Wings, collected a rebound at the top of the crease and beat Warrior goalie Matt Kelly. Abdelkader is the first Spartan frosh to score a goal in his debut since the 2003-04 season when Chris Lawrence found the back of the net in a 4-3 loss to Findlay.


Junior captain Drew Miller picked up his first goal of the season and the 22nd of his career against the Warriors, picking up right where he finished the 2004-05 season; Miller lit the lamp 17 times during his sophomore campaign in East Lansing. He would add an assist in MSU's 3-0 win over North Dakota to raise his career point totals to 22-23--45.


Sophomore forward Chris Mueller didn't take the day off, on Sunday Oct. 8, vs. the FIghting Sioux. Instead, the West Senaca, N.Y., native potted two goals, matching his season total from the 2004-05 campaign. Last season Mueller had 17 assists to go with his two tallies and finished with 19 points in 41 games.


Spartan senior forward David Booth skated in his 100th career game Sunday vs. North Dakota. Booth made the most of the milestone scoring a shorthanded goal in a 3-0 win. He also picked up a pair of assists in his 99th game, a 5-1 win against Wayne State, he now has 73 career points on 33 goals and 40 assists.


With 1-2--3 totals in a Saturday Oct. 8 win over Wayne State, sophomore forward Bryan Lerg posted his third career multi-point game. Lerg tallied 3-1--4 on Jan. 8, 2005 vs. Lake Superior and 1-1--2 on Feb. 11 at UAF. Lerg also set a single-game career high with two assists on Saturday and was named the game's number one star. On Sunday, the former US-Under 18 Team product notched his third helper of the season on Booth's shorthanded strike.


Booth's shorthanded goal against the Fighting Sioux was Michigan State's first man-down tally since January of 2004. Lee Falardeau was the last Spartan to score shorthanded when he struck on Jan. 3, in a 6-5 overtime loss to Northern Michigan.


Junior goaltender Dominic Vicari posted five shutouts in 2004-05 to bring his career total to 12. The Clinton Township, Mich., native now ranks tied for second, in career cleansheets at MSU, with former Spartan Chad Alban (1994-98). Ryan Miller (1999- 2002) leads all Michigan State goaltenders and set the national standard with 26 career blankings.


Michigan State's penalty-kill got off to a quick start in 2005-06 stifling all twelve of its opponents chances over the weekend. The Spartans shut down five Warrior power plays on Saturday and held UND scoreless with the extra-attacker on seven chances.


Senior forwards David Booth and Colton Fretter continue to inch closer to the 100 career-point plateau. Booth has posted 33 goals and 40 assists for 73 points, including a 17 goal and 36 point freshman campaign, in his first three years at Michigan State. Fretter, meanwhile, is just 15 points shy of the century mark with 85 career-points on 34 goals and 51 assists. Fretter scored a career-high 20 goals and 44 points in 2004-05.


Michigan State opened the 2005-06 regular season with a win over Wayne State, 5-1, and a 3-0 win over North Dakota to capture the fourth annual Lefty McFadden Invitational tournament title. Forwards Bryan Lerg and David Booth and defenseman Tyler Howells earned all-tournament team honors for their performances. Lerg paced the Spartan offense with a goal and three assists, Booth chipped in a shorthanded goal and a pair of assists, while Howell added two assists from the blueline. MSU junior goaltender Dominic Vicari earned the victory in both contests allowing just one goal on 41 shots for the tournament.


Michigan State head coach Rick Comley enters the season, his fourth at MSU and the 33rd of his legendary career, in sole possession of sixth place on the all-time coaching wins list in Division I hockey, with 665. In 32 seasons, Comley is 665-523-79, good for a .555 winning percentage. He needs just 10 victories to pass former Clarkson and Boston College head coach Len Ceglarski for fifth place all-time, but still has a ways to go to catch the NCAA's all-time winningest bench boss. Former Spartan head coach and current athletic director Ron Mason earned 924 victories in his illustrious career.


Junior forward Drew Miller has been selected to captain the 2005-06 Michigan State hockey team. Miller, an assistant last season, is the 10th member of his family to don the Green and White. The East Lansing, Mich., native has posted a career-line of 21-22-43. Joining Miller for his third season as an assistant captain is senior defenseman Jared Nightingale, along with seniors, defenseman Corey Potter and forward Colton Fretter.


Michigan State continues to set the bar in the CCHA. In 24 seasons of conference play the Spartans boast a league-high .699 winning percentage. MSU is 473-185-64 all-time in league play with seven regular season titles and a league-best 10 CCHA play-off titles.


The Spartans return seven of their top 10 scorers from the 2004-05 season, including double-digit goal scorers Colton Fretter (20-24-44), Drew Miller (17-16-33), Jim McKenzie (11-7-18) and Bryan Lerg (10-5-15). On defense, the talented tandem of Ethan Graham and Corey Potter return and are expected to once again play a lot of minutes on the Spartan blueline in 2005-06. Junior goaltender Dominic Vicari played in 38 games last season for the Green and White, posting a 2.30 GAA and a .923 Spct., while making 1,027 saves. The Spartans finished the 2004-05 season with a record of 20-17-4 (12-13-3 CCHA) and just missed qualifying for the program's 24th NCAA Tournament appearance.


The Spartan hockey program welcomes nine newcomers, five forwards, two  defensemen and two goaltenders, into the fold for the 2005-06 season. Forwards Justin Abdelkader (Muskegon, Mich.), Tim Crowder (Victoria, B.C.), Tim Kennedy (Buffalo, N.Y.), Kurt Kivisto (Milford, Mich.) and Nick Sucharski (Toronto, ONT.), defensemen Nick Gentile (Clarkston, Mich.) and Matt Shoyneyia (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and goaltenders Jeff Lerg (Livonia, Mich.) and Steve Mnich (Northville, Mich.) should all compete for playing time this season, while adding immediate depth to the MSU lineup.


Michigan State will face one of the more difficult schedules in the nation in 2005-06. In addition to a CCHA schedule, featuring four games with clustermates Alaska Fairbanks, Michigan and Nebraska-Omaha, the Spartans will face off against 2004-05 national runner-up North Dakota, defending ECAC Champion Cornell, Minnesota and Wisconsin in the College Hockey Showcase, as well as a potential GLI match-up with Colorado College. MSU will play 18 games at Munn Ice Arena this season.


Five returning Spartans earned CCHA honors during the 2004-05 season. Goaltender Dominic Vicari was a three-time Goaltender of the Week selection (Nov. 15, Jan. 3, Feb. 7), while senior David Booth was awarded the Offensive Player of the Week award on Jan. 24, Ethan Graham earned Defensive Player of the Week honors on Dec. 29.



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Jim McKenzie's late goal, earned the Spartans a 1-1 tie with UM in the last meeting between the two schools.
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