Michigan State Spartans men's ice hockey

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Michigan State Spartans men's ice hockey
Current season
Michigan State Spartans athletic logo
UniversityMichigan State University
ConferenceBig Ten
Head coachAdam Nightingale
2nd season, 18–18–2 (.500)
Assistant coaches
ArenaMunn Ice Arena
East Lansing, Michigan
ColorsGreen and White
Fight songVictory for MSU
NCAA Tournament championships
1966, 1986, 2007
NCAA Tournament Runner-up
1959, 1987
NCAA Tournament Frozen Four
1959, 1966, 1967, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1999, 2001, 2007
NCAA Tournament appearances
1959, 1966, 1967, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012
Conference Tournament championships
1966, 1967, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2006
Conference regular season championships
1959, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1990, 1998, 1999, 2001
Current uniform

The Michigan State Spartans men's ice hockey team is the college ice hockey team that represents Michigan State University (MSU). The team plays at the Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Michigan, on the MSU campus. The current head coach is Adam Nightingale, who took over coaching duties on May 3, 2022, after Danton Cole was fired. Michigan State currently competes in the Big Ten Conference.

The MSU ice hockey program has seven CCHA regular season championships and 11 CCHA Tournament titles. MSU has also won 12 Great Lakes Invitational titles and 3 ACHA Division 2 titles. The Spartans have been in the NCAA tournament 23 times, with nine Frozen Four appearances and three national titles (1966, 1986, and 2007). On April 7, 2007, the Michigan State Spartans won their third national championship by beating Boston College 3–1. Their traditional rival is Michigan and the teams have played an annual game in Detroit since 1990. Starting at the Joe Louis Arena, the game has since moved to Little Caesars Arena in 2018.


Early history[edit]

The Spartan ice hockey program traces its roots back to the first informal varsity team that began in 1922 playing an independent NCAA Division I schedule.[1] On January 11, 1922, Michigan State played its first intercollegiate hockey game, a 1–5 loss to Michigan.[2] Home games during the first season were played on the frozen Red Cedar River on MSU's campus.[3]

Michigan State finished 0–3 in the 1922 season and picked up its first win during the second season on February 11, 1923, 6–1 over the Lansing Independents.[2] The team did not play the 1923–24 season but returned for the 1924–25 season. The 1924–25 season marked the first time the program had a head coach, John Kobs, who also coached the Michigan State Spartans baseball team.[2] Kobs' tenure at Michigan State lasted six season before the team was suspended for 19 seasons. During which time the team compiled a record of 8-18-1.[1]

Harold Paulsen was hired as the varsity ice hockey coach at Michigan State on August 1, 1948 following the suspension of the hockey programs during the years of the Great Depression and World War II.[2] Before recruiting or coaching, Paulsen oversaw the renovation of Demonstration Hall into an indoor rink with artificial ice-making capabilities. On January 12, 1950, MSU played its first game since 1930, losing to Michigan Tech 6–2. Paulsen struggled through his first two years at Michigan State with a 6–25 record.[1] MSU athletic director Ralph Young felt the hockey program's progress was inadequate and Paulsen resigned. Following the 1951 season, Amo Bessone accepted the head coaching position at Michigan State University. Bessone would remain at MSU for the next 28 years.

Amo Bessone era[edit]

When Bessone arrived at Michigan State, the ice hockey program was beginning its third full season after being reinstated. That same season, in 1951–52, the Spartans joined Colorado College, Denver, Michigan, Michigan Tech, Minnesota, and North Dakota as founding members of the Midwest Collegiate Hockey League (MCHL).[4]

Amo Bessone won his first collegiate hockey game as head coach on November 29, 1951, when the Spartans defeated Ontario Agricultural College 8–2.[2] The Spartans struggled with six losing seasons before Bessone turned things around in his seventh season as coach.[1] In 1957–58, Michigan State enjoyed its first winning season. The following season, Bessone guided MSU to a Big Ten championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament.[5] The tournament was MSU's first NCAA tournament appearance. The Spartans defeated Boston College 4–3 in the semifinals and advanced to the schools's first championship appearance. The Spartans lost the 1959 national championship game in overtime 3–4 to North Dakota. MSU finishes the season 17-6-1.[2] Michigan State became a charter member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) in 1959.[2] The WCHA was a reincarnation of the loosely affiliated Midwest Collegiate Hockey League and Western Intercollegiate Hockey League that disbanded following the 1957–58 season.[4] Bessone and MSU struggled during the first five seasons of the WCHA. Again, Bessone turned things around with a winning season in 1964–65. The following season, Bessone coached Michigan State to an improbable NCAA National Championship.[2][6]

MSU began the 1965–66 season 4-10,[2] but rebounded winning 12 of their last 15 games including defeating the defending national champion, Michigan Tech, to win the WCHA playoffs after finishing sixth in the regular season.[2] The win earned MSU a spot in the 1966 NCAA tournament.[2] In the national semifinals, Bessone upset highly favored Boston University 2–1 with a goal by Spartan forward, Doug Volmar.[2] In the national championship game, Bessone and the Spartans faced Len Ceglarski's Clarkson team that owned the national-best record of 24–2. On March 19, 1966, Michigan State beat top-ranked Clarkson 6–1 victory to give Michigan State is first national championship.[1][2] Len Ceglarski and Amo Bessone shared the Spencer Penrose Award as the national coach of the year in 1966. The national title and coaching award cemented Bessone's legacy as a coach. To this day, Bessone's 1966 Michigan State team remains one of the biggest underdog stories in NCAA ice hockey history. The total number of team victories (16) and team winning percentage (.551) is the lowest of any NCAA ice hockey champion. MSU made the NCAA tournament again with a strong WCHA playoff finish in 1967, but lost 2–4 in the national semifinals, a rematch of the 1966 NCAA Tournament against Boston University.[2]

Bessone began the 1970s with six straight winning seasons. During Bessone's time coaching the Spartans the team won MSU won its first Great Lakes Invitational by defeating Michigan Tech 5–4 on December 28, 1973.[2]

As MSU hockey was building momentum, Munn Ice Arena opened October 25, 1974, when Michigan State hosted Laurentian.[2] That same season saw the first sellout crowd in Munn's history when the Spartans defeated North Dakota 6–2.[2] A season later, in 1975–76, Bessone guided MSU to its best WCHA conference record of 20-12-0 before Minnesota knocked MSU out of the WCHA playoffs in 6-7 triple overtime loss.[2] Minnesota, who had finished below Michigan State in the conference, received an NCAA tournament bid instead. Bessone announced his retirement effective at the end of the 1978–79 season after three straight losing seasons.[1] Bessone coached his final game as head coach on March 3, 1979, when the Spartans defeated rival Michigan 5–3.[1]

Ron Mason era[edit]

"The Cold War"

After Amo Bessone retired from Michigan State University, the MSU Athletic Director, Joseph Kearney, hired Ron Mason as the Spartans new head coach. Mason was named Spartan head coach on April 1, 1979, and spend the next 23 seasons at Michigan State. It was a rough start in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for Mason as he compiled a record of 26-46-2 over two seasons. Michigan State joined the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) in 1981 and over the next few seasons Mason turned the hockey program around. The Spartans won CCHA playoff championships the first four straight seasons of the conference in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985.[1] MSU would win a second national title in 1986 when the Spartans defeated Harvard 6–5.[2][7]

In 2000 CCHA coaches and athletic directors unanimous voted to renamed the CCHA championship trophy to the Mason Cup in honor of Ron Mason, who was a key figure in establishing the conference in the early 1970s prior to his tenure at Michigan State. During the 2000–01 season Michigan State finished first in the regular season and advanced through the CCHA Tournament winning the first ever Mason Cup.[1][2] That same season the Spartans made a Frozen Four appearance by beating Wisconsin 5-1 before losing to North Dakota in the Semifinal game.[8] On October 6, 2001, the Spartans hosted an outdoor game at Spartan Stadium against rival Michigan known as The Cold War. The school would set an attendance record for an outdoor hockey game as 74,554 fans attended.[9] The game ended in a 3–3 tie.

Mason led Michigan State to seven CCHA regular season titles and a conference-record 10 CCHA tournament titles. In addition, MSU under Mason made 19 NCAA tournament appearances during his 23 seasons with the Spartans.[1] He coached MSU to five NCAA Frozen Fours, two National Championship appearances, and one National Championship.[1] Mason coached two Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners, Kip Miller in 1990 and Ryan Miller in 2001.[10]

Rick Comley era[edit]

Michigan State Spartans men's ice hockey team in 2008

Rick Comley was announced as Ron Mason's successor as head ice hockey coach at Michigan State University in March 2002.[2] Comley led the Spartans to a tournament appearance in 2004, his second season as MSU's head coach. After losing to Northern Michigan in the 2004 CCHA Tournament the Spartans received an at-large bid to the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Third ranked MSU fell to second seed Minnesota-Duluth in the opening round 0–5.[11]

Comley's Spartans returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2006 after missing the NCAA Tournament in 2005.[1] Comley guided MSU to a second-place CCHA finish in the regular season and a CCHA Mason Cup championship in 2006. Michigan State advanced into the 2006 Tournament with an automatic bid. The Spartans defeated New Hampshire 1-0 before losing to Maine 4–5 in the East Regional Final.[12]

In the 2006–07 season, Michigan State was preseason ranked No. 5, which was MSU's highest preseason ranking since October 2001. The team earned an NCAA Tournament bid after finishing the regular season with a conference record of 15-10-3. Comley led MSU to defeat three higher-ranked teams en route to the national championship including No. 1-ranked Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional final.[13] In the Frozen Four the team defeated No. 4-ranked Boston College in the national championship game on April 7, 2007, by a score of 3–1 in a game that saw Michigan State score three unanswered goals in the third period.[14]

In December 2010 the Michigan State Spartans and Michigan Wolverines played a second outdoor game at Michigan Stadium. The game, known as The Big Chill at the Big House,[15] took place on December 11, 2010. 104,173 fans filled Michigan Stadium and watched as Michigan beat Michigan State 5–0. The attendance broke the 75,000 of the Cold War and 78,000 of the 2010 IIHF World Championship and set a new attendance record for a hockey game.[16] Later that same season on January 25, 2011, Rick Comley announced that he would retire at the conclusion of the 2010–11 season.[17]

Tom Anastos and Big Ten Conference era[edit]

The Michigan State Spartans men's ice hockey team at the 2015 Great Lakes Invitational

In September 2010 Penn State University announced that the university was elevating its men's and women's American Collegiate Hockey Association club programs to varsity status. Then-CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos publicly stated that the CCHA would strongly consider adding Penn State as the conference's 12th member.[18] On March 21, 2011, the Big Ten Conference announced plans to sponsor men's ice hockey starting in 2013–14 season. Michigan State along with CCHA rivals, University of Michigan and Ohio State University will leave the CCHA to join University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin from the WCHA and Penn State to form a six-team Big Ten Hockey Conference.[19] Less than a week after the Big Ten's announcement Michigan State announced that former CCHA Commissioner, Tom Anastos would become the 6th head coach in the history of the program.[20] Anastos is a former Spartan hockey player who played for MSU from 1981 to 1985. He is also the former coach at Michigan-Dearborn (NAIA) from 1987 to 1990, and compiled a 68-37-7 record. He later served as an assistant coach under Ron Mason from 1990 to 1992.[20]

Anastos picked up his first NCAA DI coaching victory with Michigan State in the second game of the 2012 Icebreaker tournament with a 3–2 overtime win over Air Force.[21] The Spartans finished the 2011–12 season ranked 5th in the CCHA standings and received a first round bye in the CCHA Tournament. The Spartans faced fourth-seeded Miami (OH) in the second round, in the best-of-three series Michigan State was swept 0-6 and 1–4 in two games.[22] Despite being swept by Miami, the Spartans finished 15th in the Pairwise rankings and became the final at-large bid selected for the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The bid marked the team's first appearance in the NCAA post-season since 2008, the team was placed in the East Region held at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.[23] In the game, Union College took an early lead and held the Spartans to a single goal in a 3–1 win over Michigan State in the East Regional semifinal. The game was the first meeting between the two programs and also the first win in the NCAA Division I national tournament for the Dutchmen.[24]

At the end of the 2016–17 season, it was announced that Tom Anastos would step down as head coach of the Spartans. MSU then announced that they had hired Danton Cole as the program's 7th head coach.[25]

Danton Cole era[edit]

On April 11, 2017, Danton Cole was named head coach at Michigan State University.[26] In Cole first season, 2017–18, the Spartans finished last in the Big Ten[27] and were swept in a three-game series in the conference tournament by Ohio State. The next season, MSU once again finished last in the Big Ten[28] and were swept by Notre Dame in the conference tournament. In 2019–20, the Spartans started the season strong and swept Michigan for the first time in Cole's tenure. However, the performances fell off and they finished sixth in the conference before being swept by Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament.[29]

On April 12, 2022, he was fired by Michigan State. During five seasons as head coach, he led the Spartans to a 58–101–12 record.[30]

Adam Nightingale era[edit]

A game between Michigan State and Air Force in 2023

On May 3, 2022, Adam Nightingale was named head coach at Michigan State University.[31]

Season-by-season results[edit]



As of the end of the 2022–23 season

All-time coaching records[edit]


Tenure Coach Years Record Pct.
1921–1922 No Coach 1 0–4–0 .000
1924–1930 John Kobs 6 8–18–1 .315
1949–1951 Harold Paulsen 2 6–25–0 .194
1951–1979 Amo Bessone 28 367–427–20 .463
1979–2002 Ron Mason 23 635–270–69 .687
2002–2011 Rick Comley 9 186–140–39 .563
2011–2017 Tom Anastos 6 78–121–24 .404
2017–2022 Danton Cole 5 58–101–12 .374
2022–Present Adam Nightingale 1 18–18–2 .500
Totals 8 coaches 81 seasons 1,356–1,125–167 .544

Awards and honors[edit]

United States Hockey Hall of Fame[edit]



Individual awards[edit]


AHCA First Team All-Americans

AHCA Second Team All-Americans


Individual awards[edit]

All-Conference Teams[edit]

First Team All-WCHA

Second team all-wcha


Individual awards[edit]

All-Conference Teams[edit]

First Team All-CCHA

Second team all-ccha

CCHA All-Rookie Team

Big Ten[edit]

Individual awards[edit]

All-Conference Teams[edit]

First Team All-Big Ten

Second team all-big ten

Big Ten All-Rookie Team

Statistical leaders[edit]



Player Years GP G A Pts PIM
Tom Ross 1972–1976 155 138 186 324 94
Steve Colp 1972–1976 138 132 168 300 158
Kip Miller 1986–1990 176 116 145 261 299
Peter White 1988–1992 172 75 155 230 83
Daryl Rice 1972–1976 138 96 129 225 204


GP = Games played; Min = Minutes played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; GA = Goals against; SO = Shutouts; SV% = Save percentage; GAA = Goals against average

Minimum 30 games

Player Years GP Min W L T GA SO SV% GAA
Ryan Miller 1999–2002 116 6383 73 18 12 164 26 .941 1.54
Joe Blackburn 1997–2001 57 3403 36 13 8 100 5 .920 1.76
Dominic Vicari 2003–2006 83 4845 41 24 7 191 16 .916 2.37
Jeff Lerg 2005–2009 146 8690 76 51 17 344 12 .921 2.38
Chad Alban 1994–1998 128 7633 88 30 10 284 12 .906 2.46

Statistics current through the start of the 2020–21 season.




This is a list of Michigan State alumni were a part of an Olympic team.[32]

Name Position Michigan State Tenure Team Year Finish
Weldon Olson Wing 1951–1955 United States USA 1956, 1960  Silver,  Gold
Eugene Grazia Left wing 1954–1958 United States USA 1960  Gold
Doug Volmar Right wing 1964–1967 United States USA 1968 6th
Brian Glennie Defenseman 1966–1967 Canada Canada 1968  Bronze
Gary Haight Defenseman 1980–1983, 1984–1985 United States USA 1984 7th
Kevin Miller Center 1984–1988 United States USA 1988 7th
Geir Hoff Left wing 1985–1987 Norway Norway 1988, 1992, 1994 12th, 9th, 11th
Jason Woolley Defenseman 1988–1991 Canada Canada 1992  Silver
Dwayne Norris Right wing 1988–1992 Canada Canada 1994  Silver
Rod Brind'Amour Center 1988–1989 Canada Canada 1998 4th
Mike York Left wing 1995–1999 United States USA 2002  Silver
John-Michael Liles Defenseman 1999–2003 United States USA 2006 8th
Tony Tuzzolino Center 1993–1997 Italy Italy 2006 11th
Jason Muzzatti Goaltender 1987–1991 Italy Italy 2006 11th
Ryan Miller Goaltender 1999–2002 United States USA 2010, 2014  Silver, 4th
Duncan Keith Defenseman 2001–2003 Canada Canada 2010, 2014  Gold,  Gold
Jim Slater Center 2001–2005 United States USA 2018 7th
Brock Radunske Left wing 2001–2004 South Korea South Korea 2018 12th


Current roster[edit]

As of July 24, 2023.[38]

No. S/P/C Player Class Pos Height Weight DoB Hometown Previous team NHL rights
1 Michigan Trey Augustine Freshman G 6' 1" (1.85 m) 179 lb (81 kg) 2005-02-23 South Lyon, Michigan NTDP (USHL) DET, 41st overall 2023
2 New York (state) Patrick Geary Freshman D 6' 1" (1.85 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 2004-02-18 Hamburg, New York Waterloo (USHL)
3 Sweden Viktor Hurtig Sophomore D 6' 6" (1.98 m) 197 lb (89 kg) 2002-04-28 Avesta, Sweden Mora J20 (J20 Nationell) NJD, 164th overall 2021
4 Ontario Nash Nienhuis (C) Senior D 5' 10" (1.78 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 1999-12-05 Sarnia, Ontario Omaha (USHL)
5 Belarus Artyom Levshunov Freshman D 6' 2" (1.88 m) 198 lb (90 kg) 2005-10-28 Zhlobin, Belarus Green Bay (USHL)
6 Pennsylvania Austin Oravetz Freshman D 5' 9" (1.75 m) 192 lb (87 kg) 2003-09-26 Canonsburg, Pennsylvania Green Bay (USHL)
7 Ontario David Gucciardi Junior D 6' 1" (1.85 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 2002-10-09 Toronto, Ontario Waterloo (USHL) WSH, 213rd overall 2022
8 Slovakia Maxim Štrbák Freshman D 6' 2" (1.88 m) 205 lb (93 kg) 2005-04-13 Košice, Slovakia Sioux Falls (USHL) BUF, 45th overall 2023
9 Illinois Matt Basgall (A) Sophomore D 5' 9" (1.75 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 2002-08-16 Lake Forest, Illinois Tri-City (USHL)
10 Finland Tommi Männistö Freshman F 6' 0" (1.83 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 2004-02-07 Riihimäki, Finland Tappara U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
11 Michigan Jeremy Davidson Senior F 5' 10" (1.78 m) 177 lb (80 kg) 2000-02-28 Kalamazoo, Michigan Fargo (USHL)
12 Michigan Griffin Jurecki Freshman F 5' 10" (1.78 m) 182 lb (83 kg) 2003-05-03 Grosse Ile, Michigan Omaha (USHL)
13 Michigan Tiernan Shoudy Sophomore F 5' 9" (1.75 m) 180 lb (82 kg) 2002-03-15 St. Clair, Michigan Youngstown (USHL)
16 Michigan Owen Baker Freshman F 5' 10" (1.78 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 2004-01-29 Howell, Michigan Waterloo (USHL)
18 Michigan Joey Larson Sophomore F 6' 1" (1.85 m) 194 lb (88 kg) 2001-03-27 Brighton, Michigan Northern Michigan (CCHA)
19 Switzerland Nicolas Müller (A) Graduate F 6' 0" (1.83 m) 188 lb (85 kg) 1999-06-21 Arisdorf, Switzerland Modo J20 (J20 SuperElit)
20 Michigan Daniel Russell Sophomore F 5' 9" (1.75 m) 160 lb (73 kg) 2001-11-16 Traverse City, Michigan Sioux Falls (USHL)
21 Arizona Red Savage Junior F 5' 11" (1.8 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 2003-05-15 Scottsdale, Arizona Miami (NCHC) DET, 114th overall 2021
22 Wisconsin Isaac Howard Sophomore F 5' 11" (1.8 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 2004-03-30 Hudson, Wisconsin Minnesota Duluth (NCHC) TBL, 31st overall 2022
23 Michigan Reed Lebster Graduate F 6' 0" (1.83 m) 188 lb (85 kg) 1999-03-05 Grand Rapids, Michigan UMass (HEA)
24 Colorado James Crossman Senior D 6' 3" (1.91 m) 200 lb (91 kg) 1998-11-23 Denver, Colorado Brown (ECAC)
26 California Tanner Kelly Junior F 5' 10" (1.78 m) 175 lb (79 kg) 2002-05-11 San Diego, California Muskegon (USHL)
27 Minnesota Gavin Best Sophomore F 6' 2" (1.88 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 2001-08-24 Richfield, Minnesota Minnesota Magicians (NAHL)
28 Oregon Karsen Dorwart (A) Sophomore F 6' 1" (1.85 m) 191 lb (87 kg) 2002-09-17 Sherwood, Oregon Sioux Falls (USHL)
29 Minnesota Gavin O'Connell Freshman F 6' 0" (1.83 m) 181 lb (82 kg) 2004-02-19 Wayzata, Minnesota Waterloo (USHL)
30 Illinois Jon Mor Senior G 6' 2" (1.88 m) 200 lb (91 kg) 2000-07-20 Highland Park, Illinois Langley (BCHL)
31 Michigan Luca Di Pasquo Freshman G 6' 0" (1.83 m) 201 lb (91 kg) 2003-09-24 Livonia, Michigan Penticton (BCHL)

Spartans in the NHL[edit]

As of July 1, 2023.

= NHL All-Star team = NHL All-Star[39] = NHL All-Star[39] and NHL All-Star team = Hall of Famers


Program records[edit]

The following are the Michigan State school records. Statistics are accurate as of the 2010–11 season.[2]

Note: Italics indicate a player is still an active Spartan.


  • Most goals in a career: 138 Tom Ross (1972–76)
  • Most assists in a career: 186 Tom Ross (1972–76)
  • Most points in a career: 324 Tom Ross (1972–76)
  • Most penalty minutes in a career: 466 Don Gibson (1986–90)
  • Most points in a career, defenseman: 164 Steve Beadle (1986–90)
  • Most wins in a career: 83 Jason Muzzatti (1987–91)
  • Most shutouts in a career: Ryan Miller
  • Most healthy scratches in a career: 48 David Bondra (2012–16)



See also[edit]

Michigan State Spartans


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  39. ^ a b Players are identified as an All-Star if they were selected for the All-Star game at any time in their career.
  40. ^ "Alumni report for Michigan State University". Hockey DB. Retrieved March 1, 2019.

External links[edit]