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Surprising Spartans overcome sixth-place regular season

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.-- The 1966 National Collegiate Athletic Association hockey championship rested in the West, and Michigan State had its first crown because it wouldn't give up.

"We had our troubles early in the season . . . a lot of injuries and some ice problems that hampered our practice," head coach Amo Bessone said after Michigan State beat Clarkson 6-1 in the title game at the University of Minnesota.

"But I figured we had the potential all along, once we got straightened out," Bessone added. "I know one thing: our kids worked very hard for this, and they were deserving of the championship."

At mid-season, Michigan State was bogged down with a 4-9 record, including a 6-3 loss to Clarkson.

Then MSU began to find the combination. The Spartans still finished sixth in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, but the team had jelled. The Spartans whipped Michigan and WCHA champion Michigan Tech in the Western hockey playoffs to gain a berth in the NCAA championships.

Once the title game was decided, Michigan State had won 12 of its final 16 games to wind up with a 16-13 season record.

The championship was no contest after Bob Brawley fired home a 35-foot slapshot to break a tie and give Michigan State a 2-1 lead in the second period.

The Spartans rammed in four more goals in the third period to turn it into a rout, and wound up peppering the Clarkson goal with 46 shots.

Mike Coppo got two Spartan goals and Bob Fallat, Doug Volmar and Bill Faunt had one each. Spartan goaltender Gaye Cooley had 24 saves en route to tournament MVP honors.

Four Michigan State players were named to the all-tournament team, including Cooley. Coppo, Heaphy and McAndrew also earned first-team honors, while Brawley and Tom Mikkola were on the second team.

(Parts of this story were taken from the Associated Press story which appeared in the Lansing State Journal.)

1965-66 Roster
1   Gerald Fisher   G
2   Robert Brawley  D
3   Richard Bois    D
4   Donald Heaphy   D
5   Thomas Purdo    D
6   Douglas French  D
7   Michael Coppo   W
8   Bill Faunt  C
9   Douglas Volmar  W
10  Charles Jacobson    W
11  Matthew Mulcahy W
12  Brian McAndrew  C
14  Nino Cristofoli W
15  Wayne Duffett   W
16  Robert Fallat   W
20  Thomas Mikkola  C
21  John Schuster   W
22  Larry Roche G
23  Gaye Cooley G
Head Coach
Amo Bessone

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