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A.J. Thelen Receives CCHA Best Offensive Defenseman Award

March 17, 2004

DETROIT - A pair of Michigan State hockey players were honored at the 2004 Central Collegiate Hockey Association Awards Banquet at the Fox Theatre on Wednesday night (March 17). The event is part of the CCHA Super Six Championship in Detroit this weekend.

Freshman defenseman A.J. Thelen (Savage, Mich.) received the CCHA's Best Offensive Defenseman Award. Thelen, who was a member of the 2004 CCHA All-Rookie team and earned All-CCHA First Team accolades, becomes the second straight Spartan to win the award. John-Michael Liles, currently a rookie blueliner with the Colorado Avalanche, earned the CCHA Best Offensive Defenseman Award in back-to-back seasons (2002 and 2003). Jason Woolley is the only other Spartan to receive the honor, picking it up in 1991.

Thelen, who became the first Spartan rookie to be selected to the all-league first team, is fourth on MSU in scoring and ranks first among CCHA blueliners with 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists). He is tied for third in the nation among rearguards with Providence's Stephen Wood (11-18--29) and St. Lawrence's Ryan Glenn (7-22--29) in scoring behind UMass senior Thomas Pock (15-23--38) and Minnesota junior Keith Ballard (11-23--34).

Thelen currently ranks ninth in the country in points-per-game among defenseman at 0.74. Pock leads all blueliners with a 1.09 points-per-game average. In addition, his 11 goals ties him for third in the nation in goals by a blueliner behind Pock with 15 and Denver's Ryan Caldwell with 13.

Thelen also has five power-play goals among his 11 tallies to rank first on MSU.

Freshman netminder Dominic Vicari (Clinton Township, Mich.) was the recipient of the CCHA Best Goaltender Award and MSU's Perani Cup winner. Vicari joins three-time winner Ryan Miller (2000, 2001 and 2002) as the other Spartan netminder to receive the honor.

Freshman Dominic Vicari was the recipient of the CCHA Best Goaltender Award and MSU's Perani Cup winner.

Vicari led the CCHA in league games with a 1.88 goals-against average and ranked second in saves percentage (.933) en route to earning CCHA All-Rookie First Team distinction. Overall, he has a 15-11-1 record, along with a 2.21 GAA and a .921 saves percentage.

Vicari earned CCHA Defensive Player of the Week and USCHO/Itech National Defensive Player of the Week honors after registering back-to-back shutouts against Nebraska-Omaha (Feb. 20-21). He stopped 21 shots in a 3-0 victory and recorded 35 saves in a 5-0 win in game two.

He currently leads the nation with seven shutouts. His seven blankings also put him fourth on MSU's single-season chart.

Other CCHA major award winners include: Notre Dame's Neil Komadoski (Ilitch Humanitarian Award); Alaska Fairbanks' Aaron Voros (Terry Flanagan Award); Miami's Derek Edwardson (Player of the Year); Michigan's T.J. Hensick (Rookie of the Year); Michigan's Dwight Helminen (Best Defensive Forward); Ohio State's Doug Andress (Best Defensive Defenseman); Miami's Enrico Blasi (Coach of the Year) and Michigan State's Becky Olsen (CCHA SID of the Year).

No. 10 Michigan State (23-15-2 overall, 17-9-2 CCHA) meets Northern Michigan (20-14-4 overall, 13-13-2 CCHA) in the CCHA Super Six Quarterfinals on Thursday, March 18, at 4:05 p.m. The other quarterfinal contest features Ohio State and Notre Dame, starting at 7:35 p.m. The winners of the quarterfinal match-ups will move on to the semifinals on Friday, March 20.

The lowest remaining seed will face No. 1 seed Michigan in one semifinal, at 4:05 p.m., while the second-lowest seed will meet Miami at 7:35 p.m. On Saturday, March 21, the CCHA Super Six third-place game is set for 3:35 p.m., while the CCHA Championship tilt is slated for 7:05 p.m.

The complete CCHA Super Six schedule follows:

Thursday, March 18
CCHA Super Six Quarterfinals
No. 3 seed Michigan State vs. No. 6 seed Northern Michigan, 4:05 p.m.
No. 4 seed Ohio State vs. No. 5 seed Notre Dame, 7:35 p.m.

Friday, March 20 CCHA Super Six Semifinals - Fox Sports Detroit No. 1 seed Michigan vs. lowest surviving seed, 4:05 p.m. No. 2 seed Miami vs. second-lowest seed, 7:35 p.m.

Saturday, March 21 CCHA Super Six Third-place game, 3:35 p.m. CCHA Super Six Championship, 7:05 p.m. - Fox Sports Detroit



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