January 18, 2006 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Team of the Week: Michigan State

Spartans Shut Out Michigan to Cap Solid Run

CHN Staff Report

Without an NCAA tournament win yet, and just one appearance, in his four years at Michigan State, some Spartans fans are already howling that Rick Comley — fifth on the all-time NCAA wins list and with an NCAA title under his belt — should be replaced.

But Comley has done plenty to cool the proverbial hot seat lately, guiding the Spartans to a 7-1 record over the last eight games, including Tuesday's shutout win over Michigan. That win jumped the Spartans into third place in the wild CCHA standings, and upped their record to 13-8-5 overall.

Some would say this run has finally, only, pulled the Spartans into respectability. But a closer peak reveals a different story, one with non-league wins over Cornell and North Dakota, and a tie with Minnesota. The KRACH ratings back that up, listing the Spartans a strong 10th.

Meanwhile, the Spartans are finally healthy. Interestingly, when the season started and the injuries mounted, the wins piled up. Later, as players, one-by-one, came back into the lineup, the team started losing. It was as if the Spartans had trouble with the lineup adjustments that occured moreso than benefiting from the return of talented players.

But that all seems to have sorted itself out. And the comebacks have been completed by the return of Jared Nightingale from mono, and freshman Tim Kennedy, who scored his first goal last Friday since a broken hand sidelined him for 16 games earlier in the season.

Meanwhile, freshman Jeff Lerg has stepped in between the pipes and all of a sudden been a revelation. He has two shutouts in the last three games, the first of his career and his first league wins.

That Friday win jumped Comley over Len Ceglarski for fifth all-time on the coaching wins list.

"When you are a young coach and you look at those numbers, you think 'Holy Mackerel'," said Comley. "Len Ceglarski was a great coach and a super person. If you get into the top five, that is pretty good company."

Michigan State has work to do to remain near the top of the CCHA, but for now, they are the Team of the Week.

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