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Rick Comley Named Hobey Baker "Legend of College Hockey"

By Wally Shaver , 03/11/20, 9:00AM CDT

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The Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation is very pleased to announce its 2020 Legend of College Hockey recipient as Rick Comley.

St. Paul, Minn. – The Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation is very pleased to announce its 2020 Legend of College Hockey recipient as Rick Comley. Upon his retirement from coaching in 2011, his legacy was cemented as one of the greats.  Comley was one of five head coaches in college hockey history to win over 700 games and one of three to have won national titles at two different institutions. 

One of the longest tenured and most successful coaches in NCAA history, Rick Comley won 783 games over a 38-year period at three different schools. He spent his time behind the benches of Lake Superior State University, Northern Michigan[SP1]  University and Michigan State University. NCAA National championships came in 1991 with Northern Michigan and in 2007 with Michigan State. 

His illustrious coaching career began in 1973 when taking the helm from another former Spartan coach, Ron Mason at Lake Superior State. His success was immediate – the Lakers were CCHA runners-up and NAIA national champions. In three years at LSSU, Comley compiled a 59-46-3 mark. Then in 1976 a new opportunity presented itself and soon, Comley was tasked with launching a hockey program at Northern Michigan University.

After one season as an independent, NMU moved into the CCHA. By Comley’s fourth season guiding the Wildcats (1979-80), they were CCHA regular season and playoff champions and were playing in the NCAA national championship game. A second trip to the NCAA Frozen Four followed the next season. In 1984, Northern Michigan joined Michigan Tech as the two upper peninsula schools joined the WCHA. The Wildcats remained in that circuit until 1997 when NMU rejoined the CCHA. 

During his 13 seasons in the WCHA, Comley’s teams won one WCHA regular season title, three playoff titles, made four NCAA tournament appearances and won the national championship in 1991. The 1991 final was one of the tournament’s most dramatic games ever, a come-from-behind, 8-7 triple overtime win over Boston University.

Through 26 seasons at Northern Michigan, Comley won 538 games and posted 18 winning campaigns. Then, for the second time in his career, he followed in the footsteps of the iconic Ron Mason and in 2002 took over the Michigan State University program. 

During his nine-season run as Michigan State head coach, Comley compiled a 186-140-39 record with the Spartans. His best campaign came in the 2006-07 season when MSU finished fourth in the CCHA standings, third in the playoff tournament but then went on a magical run through the NCAA tournament culminating in a national championship victory over Boston College. 

Rick Comley retired following the 2010-11 season, amassing a career coaching record of 783-615-110 in his 38 years as a head coach. He was named CCHA Coach of the Year twice (1980 and 1981) and WCHA Coach of the Year twice (1989 and 1991). He won the Spencer Penrose Trophy as national coach of the year on two occasions as well (1980 and 1991). His teams won three regular season titles, seven playoff championships and advanced to the NCAA tournament nine times, making the Frozen Four on four occasions. 

Comley was a four-year letter winner under Ron Mason at Lake Superior State (1967-71) and was a two-time NAIA All-American. In his senior season in 1971, he was named team captain and became LSSU’s Most Valuable Player. He began his coaching career as an assistant coach under Mason for the 1972-73 season before being named his successor when Mason departed for Bowling Green State University.

Coach Comley will be honored along with this year’s Hobey Baker Award winner at the annual Hobey Baker Award Banquet on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Banquet tickets are available by visiting the Hobey website at: hobeybaker.com.

Key Hobey Baker announcement dates for 2020 include:

  • Top Ten list of candidates:  March 18
  • Hobey Hat Trick of three finalists:  April 2
  • Hobey Baker Award announcement:  April 10
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The 2020 Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced from a field of three Hobey Hat Trick finalists on Friday, April 10, 2020 during the NCAA Frozen Four Championship in Detroit, MI. The award ceremony will be held at the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center and will be broadcast nationally on NHL Network and streamed live at hobeybaker.com. For more info on the Hobey Baker Award please visit www.hobeybaker.com.  To access the Hobey logo and trophy photos, please visit www.hobeybaker.com/media.