MSU Defenseman is Just Second Sophomore to Have That Role
by Timothy O'Donnell/CHN Reporter
While most teams across the country rely on the leadership of a junior or senior as captain, Michigan State leans on only the second sophomore captain in school history. Defenseman Torey Krug leads the Spartans through a disappointing season but to a brighter future.
“The whole team recognizes how close we are to being a really good team,” Krug said. “There have been two or three games all year that we’ve lost that we weren’t able to win. The rest of the losses or ties, we could have won. It comes down to one player, one mistake.”
Being able to wear the captain’s “C” on his sweater has meant a lot to Krug this year, but he understands the job that come with it.
“There’s just so much pride putting on a Michigan State jersey and now putting a 'C' on top of it is just unbelievable,” Krug said.
“It’s a lot of responsibility. You kind of have to take it has it comes.”
And as a sophomore Krug had to learn what it meant to be captain. While he learned from last year’s captains, Jeff Petry and Nick Sucharski, there were some things that needed to be learned on the fly.
“From those guys I definitely learned how to control my emotions and when to show such emotions and act on those emotions,” Krug said. “There are times when I need to be more emotional and there are times when I can’t be so emotional. I can’t let the opponent and even my teammates see me get too upset.”
But not everything was learned from watching Petry and Sucharski. Some things just had to be learned through experience.
“One of the things I’ve learned is not taking too much responsibility,” Krug said. “But taking enough and realizing that there is a job to do for the team.
But even with the learning curve, having a sophomore captain doesn’t concern head coach Rick Comley, especially with a large sophomore class.
“We have a very large sophomore class, nine players, of which he is kind of the leader of that group,” Comley said. “He’s got a great feel for the game both on and off the ice.”
And, according to Comley, being a leader is bred in Krug. Krug’s father coaches while Torey’s brothers have also played college hockey.
Even as a sophomore Krug hasn’t had conflicts with the upperclassmen.
“We only have two seniors, so it’s not a senior dominated team,” Comley said.
Even with the added responsibilities of the captaincy Krug continues to produce. After putting up 21 points (3 goals, 18 assists) as a freshman, Krug is on pace to exceed those numbers this year. He has 18 points through 22 games this season, including eight goals.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have some success here in the first half of the season,” Krug said. “But in my mind it has not been the same (as last year) just because my team’s not winning and that’s the most important thing for me.”
And Krug feels that the captaincy has helped him improve. Krug also continues to learn to balance his defensive responsibilities yet continuing to produce at the offensive end.
“Early on I was kind of reckless and gave up a few more chances than I should have,” Krug said. “But then I realized if I’m going to be playing against the other team’s top line, I can’t be so reckless.
“When I started playing more sound defense I was given better opportunities to jump up into the play.”
That was never more evident than on Jan. 7 when Michigan State and Michigan renewed their rivalry for the first time since the Big Chill. Krug recorded his first career hat trick, including two power-play goals, to lead the Spartans to the 4-3 overtime victory.
While Krug is continuing his success and improving, the Spartans have struggled this year. Michigan State currently sits in 10th in the CCHA at 7-10-3 (3-8-1 CCHA). This would put extra stress on any captain, but Krug has learned to handle it and keep the team focused on winning.
“When you aren’t getting the results you want, the morale of the locker room declines and as captain you just have to stay with the guys and bring the guys together somehow,” Krug said.
Krug and the Spartans have been able to do that, getting back-to-back wins for the first time this season to start second half. And the Spartans look to carry that momentum the rest of the season and finish the season on a strong note.
“Last year at the end of the season, we kind of tailed off and had a very, very disappointing end to the season,” Krug said. “Our goal, as a team, was to overcome that and have a better finish.”