East Lansing, Mich. - - Michigan State hockey coach Rick Comley has announced the signing of Mike Merrifield (Beverly Hills, Mich.) and Ben Warda (Lake Orion, Mich.) to National Letters of Intent. Both players recently wrapped up their seasons with St. Louis of the North American Hockey League (NAHL), helping the Bandits to the NAHL's Robertson Cup Championship.
"We're excited, because we're adding quality players to our class for the fall," explained Comley. "These are smart, exciting players with a good talent level - they bring offensive skill, have played in all situations, and fit in with the rest of our players well. "
Warda, a two-year player for the Bandits, helped St. Louis to back-to-back Robertson Cup championships (2007 and 2008), and was an All-NAHL selection in addition to being selected as a North Division All-Star in his second season. Warda led the Bandits in scoring (31-43-74, +29), and ranked among the top scorers in the NAHL this season as he tied for fifth in scoring, ranked sixth in goals, 10th in assists, second in short-handed goals (4), third in game-winning goals , and tied for seventh in plus/minus.
Merrifield was named to the NAHL All-Rookie Team and nabbed Rookie of the Year honors, and posted a 18-39-57 scoring line (+33). He netted the game-winning goal in the Bandits' 5-2 victory over Mahoning Valley in the Robertson Cup Championship game, and overall in the postseason had eight goals and six assists in 11 playoff games. In the regular season, he ranked 19th in the NAHL in scoring, 15th in assists, and tied for second with Warda in shorthanded goals (4). He also ranked tied for third in plus/minus. In 2006-07, he had a 36-31-67 stat line for Victory Honda Midget AAA.
MSU is coming off a 25-12-5 season in 2007-08, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament's second round, and is one of just three schools to advance to a regional final in each of the last three seasons, along with Boston College and North Dakota.