Saturday, April 7, 2007

Fire Who? Comley sticks it to doubters

Former Michigan State head hockey coach, now MSU athletic director, Ron Mason summed it up best in his post game thoughts with ESPN following the Spartans, 3-1, come-from-behind victory over the Boston College Eagles in college hockey's national championship.

This has quieted all the critics.

Former Northern Michigan University coach Rick Comley became the third coach in college hockey history to capture a national title at two different schools Saturday. Comley guided the Wildcats to a national title in 1991 and has now taken the Spartans, a bubble team in 2006-07, to the top of college hockey.

It was a feat that some in East Lansing thought would never happen under Comley.

Up until Comley's Mason Cup Championship in March of 2006 with MSU, "Fire Comley" threads were a common occurrence on the fan forum. Often these moronic, bitter and cruel jabs at Comley were started mid-season by people who just couldn't get over the fact that Comley was not Mason.

The early struggles of Comley, specifically against his former Wildcats, were not because he was a poor coach. It was because the boosters didn't believe in him. The players didn't believe in him.

Those one the ice could not get over the fact that Comley was not Mason as well.

But Mason believed. Now both of them are celebrating in St. Louis tonight with one hand in the air for victory and a middle finger directed right at those who had no faith.

Many point to Michigan's Red Berenson as being the best coach in the CCHA. In college hockey, most worship the ground that Minnesota bench Don Lucia walks on.

But it's easy to be successful with NHL all-star teams. It isn't to win with blue collar workers. Those who the NHL has passed up on.

While Red Wing draftees Justin Abdelkader and Tim Kennedy clinched the title for MSU Saturday, it was undrafted players like 5-foot-6 netminder Jeff Lerg and the other 18 pro free agents. The core of the Spartans are players like Lerg, Daniel Vukovic, Chris Mueller, Tyler Howells, Ethan Graham and Bryan Lerg.

These are Rick Comley's players. They are not Ron Mason's. This is his title.

NHL prospects do not equal championship teams, something the Northern Michigan Wildcats have come to learn in 2006-07.

Recently NMU has strived to be like the Michigans and Minnesotas who feature future NHL line ups on the ice night in and night out. Instead, Northern should model itself after the 2006-07 Spartans or even the 1991 Wildcats.

They should model themselves after what Rick Comley had originally built in Lakeview Arena - the teams that Walt Kyle played for and coached as an assistant.

A lot can be learned from the 2006-07 National Champion Michigan State Spartans, not only by NMU but by college hockey as a whole.

Talent can only get you so far. Heart is what makes a champion.

And also, think twice before you start a "Fire ______" thread on the fan forum. You could be the next one called out on ESPN.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Santorelli finally recognized

After being snubbed by the Inside College Hockey and, NMU junior forward Mike Santorelli was named to the RBK All-American West Team Friday as a second team selection.

Seven CCHA players were selected this season and a complete breakdown can be found at

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Coaching change in Alaska

Alaska Nanook coach Tavis MacMillan has resigned his post as head hockey coach after three seasons. The release posted today by the University of Alaska Fairbanks said MacMillan is leaving to pursue a "family opportunity."

"We have been presented an opportunity as a family that I am excited about;
however, I am not at liberty to discuss just yet," said MacMillan. "This
decision was made with my family's quality of life in mind. It was not an easy
decision and it was not one I made on my own. It was made with nothing but my
family's best interest to guide me."

The complete release can be read at

Comley advances

Former Northern Michigan University head hockey coach Rick Comley has guided the Michigan State Spartans to the NCAA National Championship with a 4-2 win over the Maine Black Bears in the national semifinals.

Comley last made an appearance in the finals with NMU back in 1991 when he brought the Wildcats their lone national title. has complete coverage of the Frozen Four along with recaps and featured from the first national semifinal held in St. Louis.

Alumni Update - More Hardware

And the awards keep rolling in for NMU Alumni.

From the ECHL:
2006-07 ECHL All-Rookie Team
PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL on Wednesday announced its All-Rookie Team for 2006-07 as determined in a vote of ECHL coaches, who were asked to select a goaltender, two defensemen and three forwards. A rookie is defined as a player who has played in less than 25 professional games prior to the start of the current season.

Jamie Milam of Gwinnett leads ECHL rookie defensemen with 22 goals, 13 power-play goals and is tied for the lead with 45 points in 66 games. He is second overall among league rookies with 13 power-play goals while his 22 goals tie him for sixth and his 45 points tie him for 11th. He is second among all ECHL defensemen in goals and power-play goals and is tied for sixth in points. He was named the CCM Vector ECHL Rookie of the Month for February after scoring 13 points (3g-10a) in 12 games.

And to complete the trifecta of NMU alums in pro hockey news (Oystrick yesterday at, Milam at; Tuomas Tarkki gets mention for his stellar performance playing in the SM-Liiga Finnish league this season. Tuomas currently heads into the Championship series with a seven game win streak. Three of those seven playoff wins were shutouts.

Read about Tuomas at

Transaction News

Darin Olver has been released from his ATO with the Hartford Wolf-Pack. Darin played in just six games where he scored just one goal and no assists for one point, eight shots, even on the +/-, and had eight minutes of penalties.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Alumni Update


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today the 2006-07 AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by AHL players and media in each of the league’s 27 member cities.

The team consists of one goaltender, two defensemen and three forwards. Each All-Rookie Team member will receive a custom designed crystal award in recognition of his selection to the 2006-07 AHL All-Rookie Team.

Previous selections to the annual AHL All-Rookie Team include Dan Cloutier (1997), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (1998), Zdeno Chara (1998), Brendan Morrison (1998), Marc Savard (1998), Daniel Briere (1998), J.P. Dumont (1999), Robert Esche (1999), Dan Boyle (1999), Cory Sarich (1999), Dmitri Kalinin (2000), Rico Fata (2000), Jonathan Cheechoo (2001), Barret Jackman (2002), Jason Spezza (2003), Michel Ouellet (2004), Cam Ward (2005), Chris Campoli (2005), Thomas Vanek (2005), Rene Bourque (2005), Brandon Bochenski (2005), Daniel Girardi (2006), Mike Green (2006), Patrick O’Sullivan (2006) and Ryan Shannon (2006).

The players and media have selected none other than NMU's former defenseman Nathan Oystrick to the All-Rookie Team for 2006-07. Oystrick is currently third in scoring among all AHL defensemen (not just rookies) with 14 goals and 30 assists, and a +17 rating. Nathan achieved this while playing in all 75 games for the Wolves. Former University of Denver player Kevin Doell is the only other Wolf to play in all 75 games to date.

As for other alumni playing pro this season, a comprehensive list has been compiled by fans of NMU at