MSU Spartans
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Rick Comley
Rick Comley

Position:
Head Coach

Experience:
171-121-35 (8 seas.)

Career record:
768-596-106 (37 seasons)


04/10/2007

National Championship Parade and Rally (photos by John Gwillim)

The national-champion MSU hockey team paraded through East Lansing and then took part in a celebration at Munn Ice Arena.

04/07/2007

NCAA Championship - Michigan State 3, Boston College 1 (AP photos)

MSU scores three third-period goals to snap the Eagles' 13-game winning streak and claim its third national title.

The Comley file ...

Birthdate: January 20, 1947 Family: Wife Diane, Children Gillian and Rick Jr.
Education: :

  • B.A., Lake Superior State (1972)
  • M.A., Northern Michigan (1973)

    Collegiate Playing Experience:

  • Four-year letterman, Lake Superior State, 1967-71

    Collegiate Coaching Experience:

  • Assistant Coach, Lake Superior State, 1972-73
  • Head Coach, Lake Superior State, 1973-76
  • Head Coach, Northern Michigan, 1976-2002
  • Head Coach, Michigan State, 2002-present

    Head Coaching Records:

  • Lake Superior State: 59-46-3 (.560)
  • Northern Michigan: 538-429-68 (.553)
  • Michigan State: 171-121-35(.570)
  • Overall Coaching Record: 768-596-106(.559)

    Coaching Honors and Awards:

  • Spencer Penrose Memorial Trophy (1980, 1991)
  • CCHA Coach of the Year (1980, 1981)
  • WCHA Coach of the Year (1989, 1991)
  • NAIA National Championship in 1974 (LSSU)
  • NCAA titles in 1991 (NMU) and 2007 (MSU)

    For Rick Comley, one of the longest-tenured and most successful coaches in NCAA history, 2009-10 was his eighth season as the head coach of the Spartans and his 38th season overall behind the bench of a collegiate hockey program. One of just two head coaches to win NCAA titles at two different institutions, a part of three National Championship teams, and ranked among the top five coaches all-time in collegiate victories, Comley has cemented his place among college hockey's most accomplished mentors.

    Comley has 37 years of head coaching experience and a proven record of success at the conference and national levels. During his career, he's coached 10 Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalists, 15 All-Americans, four league players of the year, 26 first team all-league selections, and 85 academic all-league selections. He completed the 2009-10 season with a 768-596-106 (.559) career record in 37 seasons and is one of just five coaches to surpass the 700-win plateau. He has recorded a 171-121-35 record in his MSU tenure. Despite all the past success, Comley has a keen eye on the future.

    "As coaches, we start every year with a simple goal - `Be the best at what we do.' The National Championship in 2007 was a tremendous experience, and returned our program to where we want to be," notes the mentor. "We strive to be among the nation's elite, and our goal each year is to be among the teams challenging for a National Championship."

    While 2008-09 was a bit of a rebuilding year for the program, 2009-10 brought renewed enthusiasm. A team with 17 freshmen and sophomores - 14 of which dressed regularly - finished second in the CCHA regular-season. The squad finished with a 19-13-6 overall record, and three players (Corey Tropp, Jeff Petry, and Drew Palmisano) earned Second Team All-CCHA honors in addition to first-year blueliner Torey Krug earning All-Rookie Team honors.

    During MSU's tough 2008-09 campaign, the bright spot was goaltender Jeff Lerg, who continued to break records and cement himself in college hockey history not only as an outstanding player, but citizen. Lerg graduated with 3,996 saves, good for the Michigan State and CCHA records and second on the NCAA list, and was the Lowe's Senior CLASS award winner, Ilitch Humanitarian Award recipient, adn was a finalist for the Coach Wooden Citizenship Cup and Hockey Humanitarian.

    In 2008, MSU finished with a 25-12-5 record, and finished third in the CCHA regular-season with a 19-6-3 mark. MSU earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and found themselves with arguably the toughest draw, taking on host Colorado College on the Tiger's home sheet. The Spartans prevailed before falling to conference mate Notre Dame in the regional final.

    Jeff Lerg had one of the most decorated seasons in school history, as he earned both All-America and Academic All-America honors. Lerg was named the Michigan College Athlete of the Year, and captured CCHA honors as the league's first-team goaltender and the Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He was also a finalist for the AAU's Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the US. In addition to Lerg, three other Spartans were recognized by the CCHA: Justin Abdelkader, Tim Kennedy, and Jeff Petry.

    In 2006-07, his fifth season as the Michigan State mentor, Comley returned MSU to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2001 and its third NCAA title in school history. The Spartans - who finished fourth in the regular-season CCHA standings and third in the CCHA Tournament - were perhaps a bit of an underdog at the Frozen Four, but sticking to Comley's mantra - "Just play our game" - the team rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat Maine in the semifinals (4-2) before taking on Boston College in the title game. Trailing 1-0 entering the third, the resilient MSU squad scored midway through the final frame and got the game-winner with just 18.9 seconds remaining in regulation before adding an empty-net tally to post a dramatic, 3-1 victory on college hockey's grandest stage.

    While regular-season honors were not plentiful for the Spartans, the post-season accolades certainly rolled in after the determined MSU squad captured the title. Jeff Lerg, Tim Kennedy, and Tyler Howells were named to both the Midwest Regional and Frozen Four All-Tournament teams. The legend of Michigan State's goaltender only grew with the National Championship, as Jeff Lerg was named the USA Hockey College Player of the Year and garnered MSU's George Alderton Male Athlete of the Year honors, the first hockey player to earn the award since Ryan Miller in 2001.

    Comley's 2005-06 MSU squad finished with a 25-12-8 overall record, CCHA Tournament title, and advanced into the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where the team was a goal away from the Frozen Four. While an injury-riddled first semester found the team hovering at .500 around Christmas, Comley's message and commitment to stay the course paid dividends - the result was a 17-4-3 record over the second semester which not only had the Spartans as the hottest team in the country, but back on the map as a National Championship contender. Michigan State finished second in the regular-season CCHA standings, and rolled to the 11th CCHA postseason tournament title in school history. The Green and White earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA East Regional, and posted the first NCAA Tournament shutout in school history (1-0, over New Hampshire) before bowing to Maine (5-4 in the regional final).

    The season also featured several impressive individual accolades by Spartan skaters, as Jeff Lerg was named the CCHA Rookie of the Year, earned CCHA Tournament Most Valuable Player accolades, and was named to several publications' year-end all-freshman teams. Drew Miller was honored as the CCHA's Best Defensive Forward in addition to being recognized for his campus and civic involvements with the CCHA's Ilitch Award, and was a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, one of the two highest individual awards given in college hockey.

    In 2004-05, the Spartans finished with a 20-17-4 overall mark and advanced to the CCHA Finals at Joe Louis Arena for a 14th-straight season. In addition, State captured the 2004 Great Lakes Invitational crown for the first time since the 2000 season. With an 8-0 win over Lake Superior State (Jan. 21, 2005), Comley moved into sole possession of sixth place on the NCAA all-time wins list, surpassing Jeff Sauer (1971-2002; Colorado College and Wisconsin).

    The 2003-04 Spartan squad finished the season with a 23-17-2 overall mark and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. MSU came within three points of winning the league's regular-season crown as the Spartans finished with a third-place 17-9-2 CCHA mark. State, finished the season ranked 14th in the USA Today/American Hockey Magazine poll and 12th in the USCHO.com poll.

    The accolades continued to pile up for MSU players as Jim Slater and A.J. Thelen both earned All-America Second-Team honors for the first time in their careers. Slater also was a Hobey Baker Finalist, marking the seventh-straight year the Spartans had a someone in the top-10 finalists for that award. In addition, Thelen and goaltender Dominic Vicari were selected to the CCHA All-Rookie Team. Thelen became the third Spartan blueliner to receive the CCHA's Best Offensive Defenseman award, while Vicari picked up the CCHA's Best Goaltender kudos after leading the conference with six shutouts.

    In his first season (2002-03), Comley led the Spartans to a 23-14-2 (.615) overall mark. In addition, he coached a pair of All-Americans in senior defensemen John-Michael Liles and Brad Fast. Liles led the team in scoring en route to earning the CCHA Best Offensive Defenseman award, while Fast finished second in scoring and was the recipient of the CCHA's Best Defensive Defenseman award.

    Comley arrived at MSU after spending 26 years (1976-2002) as the head coach at Northern Michigan. The first head coach in NMU hockey history, he compiled a 538-429-68 (.533) mark behind the Wildcat bench to become one of just 12 coaches to win 450 games at one school and one of 10 to post 500 victories at the same institution.

    The Stratford, Ontario, native guided Northern Michigan to CCHA regular-season championships and league postseason titles in 1980 and 1981. Comley also piloted the Wildcats to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular-season crown in 1991 and WCHA playoff championships in 1989, 1991 and 1992. He is one of three individuals to have coached regular-season champions in the WCHA and CCHA, joining Bill Selman (North Dakota 1967 and St. Louis 1973, 1975 and 1977) and former MSU assistant coach George Gwozdecky (Miami 1993 and Denver 2002) on that exclusive list.

    Prior to his MSU tenure, Comley's greatest team was the 1990-91 Northern Michigan unit which captured the WCHA regular-season and playoff championships and capped the year by winning the NCAA title. The Wildcats posted a 38-5-4 overall record and a 25-3-4 mark in conference play, concluding the season with a thrilling 8-7 come-from-behind victory over Boston University in triple overtime in the national championship game in St. Paul, Minn. NMU finished the season with a school record 26-game unbeaten streak. The 'Cats boasted a pair of Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalists in defenseman Brad Werenka and forward Scott Beattie. Both were named All-Americans, as was goaltender Bill Pye.

    Prior to the 1990-91 season, Comley's top team was the 1979-80 squad which rolled to a 34-6-1 overall record and a 17-3-0 first-place standing in the CCHA. The Wildcats would go on to win the conference playoff crown and advance to the NCAA championship game before falling to North Dakota, 5-2, in the title match. In addition to national postseason appearances in 1980 and 1991, Comley took Northern Michigan teams to the NCAA Tournament on five other occasions - 1980-81, 1988-89, 1991-92, 1992-93 and 1998-99.

    Comley has been presented the Spencer Penrose Memorial Award as college hockey's national coach of the year in 1980 and 1991. He was named CCHA Coach of the Year in 1980 and 1981, and was honored as WCHA Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1991. He also served as coach for the West team at the 1981 Senior East-West All-Star Game.

    In addition to serving as NMU hockey coach, Comley spent 13 years as the school's athletics director from 1987-2000. During his tenure as AD, Northern Michigan constructed the $21-million Superior Dome, which has a capacity of 8,000 for the football team, the $12-million Berry Events Center, home of the hockey and men's and women's basketball programs, and the Tom Izzo-Steve Mariucci Academic Center.

    The school's 13-sport program also enjoyed widespread success under Comley's leadership. The football program produced 10 winning seasons and advanced to the NCAA Division II semifinals in 1987. The women's volleyball team won seven Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) titles and won NCAA Division II national championships in 1993 and 1994. The NMU women's basketball squad won two GLIAC championships, made 10 trips to the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional Tournament, won two regional championships and made one Elite Eight appearance. The men's basketball program won two GLIAC Championships and made three visits to the NCAA Division II Tournament. The women's swimming team won five GLIAC titles, including four in a row, and the men's and women's Nordic skiing teams competed on the national level with several student-athletes chosen for national squads that competed in Europe.

    Comley began his coaching career at his alma mater, Lake Superior State, where he served as Ron Mason's varsity assistant and recruiter during the 1972-73 season. He was named the school's head coach the following year after Mason's departure to Bowling Green and guided the Lakers to a 59-46-3 mark from 1973-76, winning an NAIA national championship and a CCHA regular-season title in 1974.

    A four-year letterwinner (1967-71) for Mason at Lake Superior State, Comley was a two-time NAIA All-American and served as team captain as a senior in 1971. He was voted the team's most valuable player and won Lake Superior State's Outstanding Athlete Award in 1971.

    He earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Lake Superior State in 1972 and a master's degree in education from Northern Michigan in 1973. He was an honor student at Lake Superior, receiving the 1971 Kiwanis Scholastic Award in the School of Liberal Arts. He was inducted into the LSSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996 and into Northern Michigan's in 1998.

    Comley has been very active in the community. He serves as the honorary chairman of the American Lung Association Asthma Walk and is part of the Coaches For Kids campaign, which is raising money to build a pediatrics emergency room at Sparrow Hospital.

    Born Jan. 20, 1947, Comley and his wife, Diane, are the parents of two children. Rick is a 2004 graduate of Michigan State who earned his master's degree at MSU last spring. He currently serves as a coach and scout for the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League. Their daughter, Gillian, is a graduate of Notre Dame; she resides in Dallas with her husband, Brian Murphy, and their children Katie and Daniel.

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