The Spartans have had a great history in men’s 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. 2 Steve Colp (1972-1976) Brian Bobal
Skating into the No. 2 spot on my countdown is Steve Colp. The Toronto native played for the Spartans from 1972 to 1976, which was towards the end of the Amo Bessone era that saw Michigan State play in the WCHA. While Colp never won a national championship, his name is scattered near the top of the Spartan record books.
In a time before the Hobey Baker Award, Colp became one of only two Spartan to total over 300 career points, which is sensational for a 138-game career. In his first two seasons, Colp led the team in goals and points. In fact, his 72-point output in conference play in his sophomore year was the most in the entire WCHA. He tacked on 25 more points in the rest of the schedule to give him 97 points on the season, which ties for third-most points in a season in Michigan State history.
Colp ranks second all-time in career goals, assists, points and powerplay goals. He shares the record for most career hat tricks with 10. He also shares records for most assists in a game (6), which came against Michigan in December of 1974. He became only the second Spartan to record a hat trick in one period twice in his career when he scored three goals in the first period in a March 1976 contest against, who else, the Wolverines.
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments in his Spartan career came in the 1973 Great Lakes Invitational Championship Game against Michigan Tech. With the score deadlocked 4-4 near the end of regulation, Colp buried the game-winning goal with 1:48 left on the clock to give Michigan State its first Great Lakes Invitational Championship in program history.
No. 2 Kip Miller (1987-1990) Max Benoit
My dad and I always laugh at how Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, has a Super Bowl MVP award, multiple NFL passing records and quite a few other accolades, yet he may not even be the best quarterback in his own family. This situation could be applied to Kip Miller and his cousin, Ryan Miller. Both had tremendous careers at MSU, and both have won a Hobey Baker Award – but Kip is the one that prevails above Ryan on my list.
With the stats he put up and the accolades he received, Kip is a well-deserving player to be in the No. 2 spot on my list. Born in Lansing, Mich., Kip played for four years at MSU from 1987-90, racking up 261 points, which is good enough for No. 3 all-time for points in a career at Michigan State. Kip is also only four points behind Tom Ross for the school record for most points in a season with 101. With that 101 point season in 1990, Miller became the first Spartan to win the Hobey Baker Award – an achievement that nobody can ever steal from him. He will always be the first. Miller tallied 118 goals in his career, including three seasons of 20 goals or more, an impressive thing to do in college hockey.
What really brings Miller near the top of my list is his benefit towards the team’s success. Miller was a member of a multitude of championship teams — including two CCHA regular season championship teams (1989, 1990), three CCHA conference championship teams (1987, 1989, 1990), four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (1987,1988, 1989, 1990) and two Frozen Four appearances (1987, 1989). Kip was a factor on all of these teams, being one of the leaders in a few offensive categories each season he played. His competitiveness combined with his skill led to success in the Ron Mason Era.
Miller had one of the more fulfilled college careers that a player could ask for. He won nearly every championship, had some great scoring seasons and even won a few valuable individual awards as well. Therefore, he is definitely one of the top Spartans in my mind.
No. 2 Kip Miller (1987-1990) Jason Ruff
Another Miller makes my list (not really a surprise when so many of them have played for the Green and White). Kip Miller was another great product of the Mason era. After two solid seasons in 1987 and 1988, Miller became a huge scoring threat his junior year, recording 77 points and earning a first-team All-American selection in 1989. With such talent at their disposal, the Spartans made it to their third Frozen Four in just four years.
If Miller’s junior year was incredible, then his senior year was awe-inspiring. Miller became only the second Spartan to surpass the 100-point mark in a single season and was an integral part of MSU’s CCHA dominance (regular and tournament champions) during the 1989-90 season. For his efforts, Miller was awarded the Hobey Baker Award, the first in Spartan history, as well as NCAA College Hockey Player of the Year.
Miller was indeed one of the all-time greats in Spartan hockey history. During his four-year career with MSU he garnered 261 points, appeared in two Frozen Fours, and became MSU’s first Hobey Baker Award winner. Had it not been for the exploits of another Spartan nearly 15 years earlier, it is safe to say that Miller would be in the No. 1 spot on my countdown.
Top MSU Hockey Players of All Time: No 3 Brian Bobal: Jeff Lerg Max Benoit: Tom Ross Jason Ruff: Mike Donnelly Top MSU Hockey Players of All Time: No 4 Brian Bobal: Kip Miller Max Benoit: Ryan Miller Jason Ruff: Ryan Miller Top MSU Hockey Players of All Time: No 5 Brian Bobal: Ryan Miller Max Benoit: Mike Donnelly Jason Ruff: Mike York
Brian Bobal, Max Benoit and Jason Ruff are multimedia reporters for Impact Sports.
Photo: Jonathan Yales/Impact Sports