Michigan State Spartans men's ice hockey

The Michigan State Spartans men's ice hockey team is the college ice hockey team that represents Michigan State University. The team plays at the Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, Michigan, on the MSU campus. The current head coach is Danton Cole, who took over coaching duties on April 11, 2017, after Tom Anastos resigned. 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. The Spartans have been in the NCAA tournament 23 times, with nine Frozen Four appearances and three national titles. 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

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. On January 11, 1922, Michigan State played its first intercollegiate hockey game, a 1–5 loss to Michigan. Home games during the first season were played on the frozen Red Cedar River on MSU's campus.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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. 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

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.
Amo Bessone won his first collegiate hockey game as head coach on November 29, 1951, when the Spartans defeated Ontario Agricultural College 8–2. The Spartans struggled with six losing seasons before Bessone turned things around in his seventh season as coach. 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. 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. Michigan State became a charter member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 1959. 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. 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.
MSU began the 1965–66 season 4-10, 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. The win earned MSU a spot in the 1966 NCAA tournament. In the national semifinals, Bessone upset highly favored Boston University 2–1 with a goal by Spartan forward, Doug Volmar. 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. 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 and team winning percentage 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.
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.
As MSU hockey was building momentum, Munn Ice Arena opened October 25, 1974, when Michigan State hosted Laurentian. That same season saw the first sellout crowd in Munn's history when the Spartans defeated North Dakota 6–2. 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. 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. Bessone coached his final game as head coach on March 3, 1979, when the Spartans defeated rival Michigan 5–3.

Ron Mason era

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 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. MSU would win a second national title in 1986 when the Spartans defeated Harvard 6–5.
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. That same season the Spartans made a Frozen Four appearance by beating Wisconsin 5-1 before losing to North Dakota in the Semifinal game. 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. 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. He coached MSU to five NCAA Frozen Fours, two National Championship appearances, and one National Championship. Mason coached two Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners, Kip Miller in 1990 and Ryan Miller in 2001.

Rick Comley era

Rick Comley was announced as Ron Mason's successor as head ice hockey coach at Michigan State University in March 2002. 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.
Comley's Spartans returned to the NCAA Tournament in 2006 after missing the NCAA Tournament in 2005. 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.
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. 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.
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, 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. Later that same season on January 25, 2011, Rick Comley announced that he would retire at the conclusion of the 2010–11 season.

Tom Anastos and Big Ten Conference era

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. 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. 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. Anastos is a former Spartan hockey player who played for MSU from 1981–85. He is also the former coach at Michigan-Dearborn from 1987–90, and compiled a 68-37-7 record. He later served as an assistant coach under Ron Mason from 1990–92.
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. 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 in the second round, in the best-of-three series Michigan State was swept 0-6 and 1–4 in two games. 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. 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.
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.

Danton Cole era

On April 11, 2017, Danton Cole was announced as the new head coach at Michigan State University.

Season-by-season results


As of the end of the 2019–20 season

All-time coaching records

Awards and honors

US Hockey Hall of Fame">United States Hockey Hall of Fame">US Hockey Hall of Fame

Individual Awards

Hobey Baker Award
Spencer Penrose Award
NCAA Scoring Champion
Tournament Most Outstanding Player
AHCA First Team All-Americans
AHCA Second Team All-Americans

Individual Awards

Most Valuable Player
Sophomore of the Year
Freshman of the Year
First Team All-WCHA
Second Team All-WCHA

Individual Awards

Player of the Year
Best Defensive Forward
Best Defensive Defenseman
Best Offensive Defenseman
Best Goaltender
Coach of the Year
Perani Cup
Scholar-Athlete of the Year
Terry Flanagan Memorial Award
Best Defensive Forward
Ilitch Humanitarian Award
Tournament Most Valuable Player
First Team All-CCHA
Second Team All-CCHA
CCHA All-Rookie Team

Individual Awards

Player of the Year
Goaltender of the Year
Freshman of the Year
Scoring Champion
First Team All-Big Ten
Second Team All-Big Ten
Big Ten All-Rookie Team

Career points leaders


Career Goaltending Leaders

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

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.


Current roster

As of September 3, 2019.

Spartans in the NHL

PlayerPositionTeamYearsStanley Cup|
Justin AbdelkaderLeft WingDET2007–Present0
Bryan AdamsLeft WingATL1999–20010
Norm BarnesDefensemanPHI, HFD1976–19820
David BoothLeft WingFLA, VAN, TOR, DET2006–20180
Rod Brind'AmourCenterSTL, PHI, '1989–20101
Jeff BrubakerLeft WingHFD, MTL, CGY, TOR, EDM, NYR, DET1979–19890
Anson CarterCenterWSH, BOS, EDM, NYR, LAK, VAN, CBJ, CAR1996–20070
Danton ColeRight WingWPG, TBL, NJD, NYI, CHI1989–19960
Jim CumminsRight WingDET, PHI, TBL, CHI, PHO, MTL, ANA, NYI, COL1991–20040
Jim CunninghamLeft WingPHI1977–19780
Nelson DebenedetDefensemanDET, PIT1973–19750
Mike DonnellyLeft WingNYR, BUF, LAK, DAL, NYI1986–19970
Bob EssensaGoaltendersWPG, DET, EDM, PHO, VAN, BUF1988–20020
Brad FastDefensemanCAR2003–20040
Norm FosterGoaltenderBUF, EDM1990–19920
Don GibsonDefensemanVAN1990–19910
Brian GlennieDefensemanTOR, LAK1969–19790
Derek GrantCenterOTT, CGY, BUF, NSH, ANA, PIT2012–Present0
Steve GuollaCenterSJS, TBL, ATL, NJD1996–20030
Adam HallRight WingNSH, NYR, MIN, PIT, TBL, CAR, PHI2001–20140
Mark HamwayForwardNYI1984–19870
Jeff HardingRight WingPHI1988–19900
Shawn HeaphyCenterCGY1992–19930
Taro HiroseForwardDET2019–present0
Shawn HorcoffCenterEDM, DAL, ANA2000–20160
Andrew HutchinsonDefensemanNSH, ', TBL, DAL, PIT2003–20111
Bob JohnsonGoaltenderSTL, PIT1972–19750
Duncan KeithDefenseman'2005–Present3
Tim KennedyLeft WingBUF, FLA, SJS, PHO2008–20140
Dale KrentzForwardDET1986–19890
Torey KrugDefensemanBOS2011–Present0
Ken LeiterDefensemanNYI, MNS1984–19900
Bryan LergForwardSJS2014–20160
John-Michael LilesDefensemanCOL, TOR, CAR, BOS2003–20170
Chris LuongoDefensemanDET, OTT, NYI1990–19960
Dan McFallDefensemanWPG1984–19860
Brian McReynoldsCenterWPG, NYR, LAK1989–19940

PlayerPositionTeamYearsStanley Cup|
Donald McSweenDefensemanBUF, ANA1987–19960
Joby MessierDefensemanNYR1992–19950
Mitch MessierRight WingMNS1987–19910
Drew MillerLeft Wing', TBL, DET2006–20171
Kelly MillerLeft WingNYR, WAS1984–19990
Kevin MillerRight WingNYR, DET, WAS, STL, SJS, PIT, CHI, NYI, OTT1988–20040
Kip MillerCenterQUE, MNS, SJS, NYI, PIT, ANA, WAS1990–20040
Ryan MillerGoaltenderBUF, STL, VAN, ANA2002–Present0
Chris MuellerCenterNSH, DAL, NYR2010–20150
Joe MurphyRight WingDET, ', CHI, STL, SJS, BOS, WSH1986–20011
Pat MurrayLeft WingPHI1990–19920
Rem MurrayLeft WingEDM, NYR, NSH1996–20060
Jason MuzzattiGoaltenderCGY, HFD, NYR, SJS1993–19980
Dwayne NorrisRight WingQUE, ANA1993–19960
Jeff ParkerRight WingBUF, HFD1986–19910
Jeff PetryDefensemanEDM, MTL2010–Present0
Lyle PhairLeft WingLAK1985–19880
Corey PotterDefensemanNYR, PIT, EDM, BOS, CGY, NSH2008–20160
Bobby ReynoldsLeft WingTOR1989–19900
Doug RobertsRight WingDET, OAK, BOS1965–19750
Ron ScottLeft WingNYR, LAK1983–19900
Craig SimpsonLeft WingPIT, ', BUF1985–19952
Jim SlaterCenterATL, WIN2005–20150
Bryan SmolinskiCenterBOS, PIT, NYI, LAK, OTT, CHI, VAN, MTL1990–20040
Dean SylvesterRight WingBUF, ATL1999–20010
Tom TilleyDefensemanSTL1988–19940
Corey TroppRight WingBUF, CBJ, ANA2011–20170
Tony TuzzolinoCenterANA, NYR, BOS1997–20020
Doug VolmarRight WingDET, LAK1969–19730
Jim WattGoaltenderSTL1973–19740
Mike WattLeft WingEDM, NYI, NSH, CAR1997–20030
Mike WeaverDefensemanATL, LAK, VAN, STL, FLA, MTL2001–20150
Peter WhiteCenterEDM, TOR, PHI, CHI1993–20040
Neil WilkinsonDefensemanMNS, SJS, CHI, WPG, PIT1989–19990
Jason WoolleyDefensemanWSH, FLA, PIT, BUF, DET1991–20060
Mike YorkCenterNYR, EDM, NYI, PHI, PHO, CBJ1999–20090

Program records

The following are the Michigan State school records. Statistics are accurate as of the 2010–11 season.
Note: Italics indicate a player is still an active Spartan.