Tropp's Path of Redemption and More
by Becky Ebert/CHN Reporter
With the 2010 Winter Olympics just under way in Vancouver, now is the time to dream big. Many athletes, Olympic or not, often find themselves in trying situations that have the potential to make or break their careers. The same can be said for Michigan State’s Corey Tropp, who found himself suspended last season following an on-ice incident.
On Saturday, January 24, 2009, the Michigan Wolverines were 53 seconds away from a 5-3 win over the Spartans, when defenseman Steve Kampfer was attacked from behind. Following a clean hit on Tropp just seconds before, Kampfer was punched into the boards by former Spartan Andrew Conboy. As Kampfer lay motionless on the ice, Tropp took the blade of his stick to the player’s neck. In just a split second, Tropp made one of the worst decisions of his college hockey career.
Two days later, Conboy and Tropp found themselves suspended for the remainder of the season by Michigan State University. Soon after the suspension, Andrew Conboy made the decision to drop out of school and leave his career as a Spartan in the past.
However, with some convincing and encouragement from former MSU players, Jeff Lerg and Justin Abdelkader, Tropp made the choice to continue his education and eventually get back on the ice for the Spartans. Soon enough, Corey’s decision to stay in school would pay off.
Michigan State head coach, Rick Comley, announced the reinstatement of Tropp two months after the original suspension. Corey’s teammates embraced his return with open arms. Not only did Tropp kick off the season’s opening weekend with a goal and three assists, but was named as an assistant captain.
“I learned a lot about myself after that situation,” said Tropp, “Hopefully I can look back in a few years and see it as a bump in the road.”
Tropp has not just come back in a solid way, he's taken off. In 32 games this season, Tropp has 20 goals and 19 assists, putting him in the running for the illustrious Hobey Baker Award.
Corey’s travels began when he was just five years of age. A future with hockey became obvious to Ed and Linda Tropp when their son begged to stay up past his bedtime to catch the rest of the Detroit Red Wings game. When the Wings weren’t on the tube, older brother Eddie and Corey could be found on the pavement playing a game of pick-up street hockey.
“My older brother definitely got me into hockey,” said Corey, “I think I got my first pair of double-runner skates when I was six.”
In 2005, Tropp pack up his things and headed to the USHL, where he would play for the Sioux Fall Stampede. Throughout the two consecutive seasons he spent playing for the Stampede; Tropp recorded a total of 77 points in 100 games. In his final year of juniors, Corey added another accomplishment to the list when he was named MVP of the 2007 USHL All-Star game.
“The possibility of making a career out of hockey became a bit more realistic when I moved to Utah to play juniors,” said Tropp, “Then the scholarship to Michigan State came along and I was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres.”
Tropp has made significant strides when it comes to the offensive side of his game. In his first season with MSU, Corey scored 6 goals and 11 assists in 42 games. Now in his junior season, Tropp has 20-19—39.
“I think I’m stepping into a more offensive role,” said Corey, “My hands have gotten much better.”
Corey hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Spartans’ goaltender, Ryan Miller and forward Tim Kennedy, who are currently playing for the Sabres. However, Tropp realizes that there is still room for improvement in his game.
“Skating is something that I’m always trying to improve,” said Tropp, “But even the little things like faceoffs and your shot are important.”
After making actions described as disgraceful and vicious, Corey will continue on his path of redemption. It may seem to be going fairly well for the MSU right-winger, but only time will tell if his college hockey career will be defined by a terrible mistake, or a player taking advantage of a second chance.
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