The MSU hockey team has had a great history in college hockey. With their fair share of conference, regular season and tournament titles, three NCAA National Championships, and two Hobey Baker award winners, the Spartans have some great accomplishments under their belt. None of those accomplishments would have been possible if it were not for the hard work and dedication put in by countless MSU hockey players over the years.
Over the next five weeks, Behind the Mask will be releasing each of our top five greatest spartan hockey players of all time. Starting with No. 5 and working all the way up to No. 1. Each of us giving our own reasons on why each player deserves to be there.
Who will claim the top spot on the countdown?
* * *No. 4 Kip Miller (1986-1990) Brian Bobal
The cousin of my No. 5 pick skates into the No 4. spot in this countdown, and rightfully so. Even though he spent the better part of 12 seasons and 449 games in the NHL, Kip Miller’s biggest honor, in his mind, was being able to suit up 172 times in a Spartan uniform. Miller had a stellar four years with Michigan State. He won two CCHA playoff championships and made it to the NCAA tournament four times, including two trips to the Frozen Four and one trip to the national championship game.
Miller also became the first Spartan to ever win the Hobey Baker Award after leading the nation in points (101) for the second straight campaign in the 1989-1990 season. The 101-point season is still good enough for second-most points in a season in school history. Through the course of his 172-game career, he sits third on the all-time scoring list at 261 points, third in goals with 116, and ranks in the top 10 in penalties, penalty minutes, assists and powerplay goals.
Miller was inducted into the Michigan State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013 and with the career he had, he is deserving of that honor and the No. 4 spot my countdown.No. 4 Ryan Miller (1999-2002) Max Benoit
He is arguably the greatest hockey player to walk the streets of East Lansing. One of only two Spartans to win the Hobey Baker Award for being college hockey’s best player, Ryan Miller is an easy pick to be in the top five greatest spartans of all time.
Born and raised in East Lansing, the tall and lanky goaltender played three years for his hometown team from 1999 to 2002. Miller managed to make his mark in the NCAA record books a few times. He currently holds the NCAA records for career save percentage (.941) and shutouts (26). Miller also ranks in the top three in career goals against average. All numbers that could make him arguably one of the greatest goalies in NCAA history.
Miller was a workhorse. After splitting time with All-American goaltender Joe Blackburn his freshman year in 1999, he started 40-plus games in each of the following two years. He was the first goalie in CCHA history to record back-to-back shutouts during the semifinal and championship games of the CCHA tournament.
If you thought that his accomplishments dwindled during his sophomore year, you would be wrong. Miller’s sophomore year put his freshman year to shame. Miller led all goalies in the country in wins, save percentage and shutouts. Setting single season NCAA records with both a .950 save percentage and 10 shutouts. Miller also lead the Spartans to the Frozen Four in 2001.
During his junior year, Miller nearly hit all the same strides that he set during his sophomore campaign. As a result, he was named a Hobey Baker finalist once again in 2002. By the time he moved on to the NHL, Miller had a CCHA regular season championship, two CCHA tournament titles and numerous individual accolades. If he had stuck around for a senior season, he would have easily been the No. 1 Spartan on my list.No. 4 Ryan Miller (1999-2002) Jason Ruff
Ryan Miller is quite possibly one of the most easily recognisable Spartan hockey players in the University’s history. During his three years at Michigan State, Miller accumulated a NCAA and MSU record 26 career shutouts. 2001 was the year Miller burst into the national consciousness as THE college goaltender.
In addition to a spectacular performance during the Cold War game at Spartan Stadium, Miller led the nation in wins (31), save percentage (.950), goals against average (1.32) and shoutouts (10). Miller led the Spartans to a CCHA tournament championship (beating Michigan no less) as well as a Frozen Four appearance in 2001. Rightfully so, Miller was awarded the Hobey Baker Award (only the second NCAA goaltender to do so) and the Big Ten Jesse Owens Men’s Athlete of the Year Award.
Even though he spent only three years in East Lansing, Ryan Miller left an impact that will not disappear anytime soon. In fact, Miller arguably started a trend of top notch goaltending at MSU, a tradition junior Jake Hildebrand and incoming freshman Edwin Minney will look to continue this season.
For many accomplishments and his lasting legacy, Ryan Miller definitely earns the No. 4 spot on my list.
Brian Bobal, Max Benoit and Jason Ruff are multimedia reporters for Impact Sports.
Photo: Jonathan Yales/Impact Sports