I'll bet this is the toughest season Rick Comley has ever had as a college hockey coach and who knows how it will end up.  There are 18 games down and 18 to go and two players suffered for the season's first half on Wednesday.  Comley sent freshman Mike Merrifield, who scored a goal Tuesday against the U-S Developmental Under 18 team, back to juniors for the remainder of the season.  And junior defenseman Ryan Turek was dismissed from the team outright for performance not conducive to being an MSU hockey player.  The details were released in a statement from the hockey office.

     Senior goaltender Jeff Lerg suggested that anyone who didn't want to sacrifice a lot more shouldn't return for the second half of the season.  Lerg is clearly frustrated with the pros watching his senior season.  Two years ago he was key to MSU's winning the NCAA championship.  He's lost a lot of his friends.  He has 11 freshmen, well now ten since Merrifield is gone and that's too many inexperienced players to compete at the level MSU is at.

     The Spartans are off for nine days and they are 11th in the CCHA standings.  They likely will play on the road in the CCHA play offs and miss the NCAA tournament.  They likely will have a losing season considering they are currently 4-11-3 and 0-9-2 in their last 11 games, 0-10-2 if you include the exhibition on Tuesday.  Among the final 18 games-- North Dakota (next up on December 27th in the GLI tournament in Detroit, 6:30pm face off) Michigan twice, Miami twice, Notre Dame twice and other league teams who are ahead of them in the standings.

     Things will get better and next year's recruits are promising.  But they've also lost veteran center Nick Sucharski and defenseman A. J. Sturges for the season with injuries and Sucharski was the only veteran at his position returning from last season.  Not a happy holiday season to be sure.


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