March 13, 2012
East Lansing, Mich. - Michigan State has two individuals up for major awards at the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Awards Show on Thursday, March 15 at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.
MSU head coach Tom Anastos is one of three finalists for the CCHA Coach of the Year. Anastos guided his alma mater to a 19-15-4 overall record, an improvement of five spots in the final CCHA standings, and has his team on the brink of an NCAA Tournament berth. Anastos has the third-most victories of any first-year mentor this season (behind Union's Rick Bennett and UMass Lowell's Norm Bazin). The Spartans' strength of schedule ranks second in the country this season, and MSU has played 20 games - more than half its schedule - against teams currently in the top 16 of the PairWise rankings, the tool utilized by the NCAA committee in selecting the NCAA Tournament field. Anastos is joined on the finalists list by Michigan coach Red Berenson and Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels, an MSU graduate.
Junior All-America and Hobey Baker candidate Torey Krug is a finalist for the RBC Financial Group CCHA Player of the Year, as well as Best Offensive Defenseman honors. Krug was named the league's Best Offensive Defenseman in 2011, and looks to retain that crown in 2012. He is a Player of the Year finalist for the first time in his career, and looks to become the seventh Spartan player to earn Player of the Year honors.
Krug leads the Spartans and ranks fifth among all defensemen nationally in points, with 33 (12g, 21a), including nine multi-point performances. The junior became the fifth defenseman in college hockey history to win his league's scoring crown, and is just the second blueliner in CCHA history since the 1986-87 season to accomplish the feat. His +18 is tied for eighth among defensemen in the country.
Other Player of the Year finalists include Miami junior forward Reilly Smith, and Ferris State senior defenseman Chad Billins. Smith was named the league's Postgame Offensive Player of the Week four times this season and his 18 conference goals earned him the league goal-scoring title for the second consecutive year. Behind the staunch defense and strong leadership of Billins, Ferris State earned its first regular-season title since the 2002-03 season and ascended to No. 1 in the country for the first time in school history.
Billins, Krug and Western Michigan junior Matt Tennyson are the finalists for Best Offensive Defenseman. Krug's 11 goals led the league for defensemen for the second straight year. The Spartans' captain tied for the conference lead in points with 29. Billins, the Bulldogs' captain, tied Krug for the league lead among defenseman in assists with 18, and led his team in conference scoring with 25 points. With a heavy shot from the point, Tennyson led the Broncos with six power-play goals this season.