East Lansing, Mich. - Michigan State hockey coach Rick Comley has announced the captains for the 2008-09 Spartan hockey team. Senior goaltender Jeff Lerg (Livonia, Mich.) has been named the captain, while classmates Tim Kennedy (South Buffalo, NY), Tim Crowder (Victoria, British Columbia), and Brandon Gentile (Clarkston, Mich.) have been named alternate captains for the upcoming season.
“While Jeff will be wearing a “C” for the first time, there is no doubt about his leadership on the ice or in the locker room,” notes Comley. “Jeff has earned the respect of everyone in the program, and he unquestionably has been a leader on this team during each of his three years. All four players who are wearing letters next year have accomplished a high level of success over the last three years, and I think that they will be great leaders for our hockey team, especially with a large group of freshmen joining the program.”
Lerg, who was an alternate captain in 2007-08, has put together one of the most accomplished, decorated resumes of any Spartan in the history of the program. In 2007-08, he put together one of the most decorated campaigns in school history; the netminder was a Hobey Baker finalist, a Second-Team All-America selection, the CCHA First-Team goaltender, and the CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In addition, he was a finalist for the prestigious James E. Sullivan Award as the nation’s top amateur athlete, as well as a finalist for CCHA Player of the Year honors. In addition to earning team MVP honors for the second consecutive season, the junior finished the season ninth in the country in saves percentage (.926) and a 2.22 GAA, which ranked 18th nationally. Lerg’s career numbers rank among the top five all-time at Michigan State in several categories: save percentage (.922), second; saves (2,956), second; goals-against average (2.22), third; career shutouts (10), fourth; wins (67), fifth; games played (114), fourth; and consecutive games played (63), first. Lerg is a three-year starter who has guided the hockey program into at least the second round of the NCAA Tournament for three straight seasons, making Michigan State one of just three schools to accomplish that feat along with Boston College and North Dakota. He backstopped the Spartans to the 2007 NCAA title, and was named the University’s George Alderton Award winner as the top male athlete in 2007. In addition, he was named the USA Hockey College Player of the Year. As a freshman, Lerg emerged as the starter in January and went on an impressive run that saw him earn CCHA Rookie of the Year honors, then emerged as the CCHA Tournament MVP when he helped the Spartans capture the 2006 CCHA title.
Kennedy will wear an “A” for the second straight season, and has been the team’s top scorer in each of the last two seasons. In 113 career games in Green & White, he has 42 goals and 63 assists for 105 points. He was a second-team All-CCHA pick a year ago and was named to the 2007 Frozen Four All-Tournament Team.
Crowder and Gentile will serve as alternate captains for the first time in their careers. Crowder is the active leader in career games played (127), and also in goals (46). He has added 47 assists for 93 career points. A big, mobile winger, Crowder has been a fixture on the Spartans’ top lines since his freshman season, along with Kennedy. Gentile will be counted on this season to help anchor a defensive corps that has lost three regulars. A steady, stay-at-home type, Gentile has had two productive seasons after missing most of his freshman campaign with injury. He has appeared in 97 career games, and has 13 career assists.
The Spartans will welcome a freshman class of 10 players in the fall of 2008, after losing five players (Bryan Lerg, Jeff Dunne, Zak McClellan, Chris Mueller, and Daniel Vukovic) to graduation and Justin Abdelkader and Michael Ratchuk both signed professional contracts, forgoing the balance of their collegiate eligibility.