The early-signing period for 2005-2006 recruits started Wednesday and Michigan State announced a half-dozen players have signed National Letters of Intent for next season.
Forwards Justin Abdelkader (Muskegon), Tim Kennedy and Nick Sucharski, defensemen Brandon Gentile (Clarkston) and Ryan Turek (Northville) and goaltender Jeff Lerg (Livonia) will join the Spartan program next fall.
"We are thrilled with this year's class," said MSU head coach Rick Comley. "It is a great recruiting class. The coaches did an outstanding job. We have added an outstanding goaltender that will create a competitive situation at that position. We added two defensemen who have excellent skills. They skate very well, move the puck and think the game very well. I really believe that we have upgraded our overall talent at the position.
"In addition, we are bringing in three forwards, who fit the character and profile that we are trying to add to our team right now. They are intelligent players, move up and down the ice well and will compliment the returning players that we have in our system.
"Overall, I think this is an excellent class. They can step in and fill the holes that we lose with our good graduating senior class."
The graduating senior class is comprised of forwards Jim Slater, Mike Lalonde, Ash Goldie, Kevin Estrada and Adam Nightingale and goalie Matt Migliaccio.
A breakdown of the six recruits:
-Justin Abdelkader, F, 6-1, 195, Shoots: L; Birthday: Feb. 25, 1987
Is in his first season with Cedar Rapids of the United States Hockey League after being amed Mr. Hockey 2004 by the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches as a junior. He was also a member of the 2004 Dream Team and an all-state selection after recording 80 points (37 goals, 43 assists) in just 28 games for Muskegon Mona Shores a year ago.
-Brandon Gentile, D, 6-0, 190, Shoots: L; Birthday: April 23, 1987
Is in his second season with the U.S. National Team program in Ann Arbor and has appeared in 15 games with one goal and two assists for three points. Ranks fourth on the team with 27 penalty minutes to boot. Prior to the U.S. Team, played midget hockey for Little Caesars.
-Tim Kennedy, F, 5-11, 170, Shoots: L; Birthday: April 30, 1986
A Buffalo, N.Y. native, Kennedy is in his second season with the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL and has 10 points thus far. He played midget hockey with current MSU freshman Chris Mueller.
-Jeff Lerg, G, 5-6, 150, Catches: L; Birthday: April 9, 1986
Is in his second season with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL and has appeared in 12 games, posting a 9-2-0 record along with a shutout, a 1.96 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage - second in the league in GAA and third in save percentage. Last year, Lerg went 24-5-2 with a 2.20 GAA and a .917 saves percentage in 35 games with four shutouts. In 2002, Lerg backstopped the HoneyBaked midget major team to the Michigan state championship. Father Ken Lerg played hockey at Ohio State from 1969-72 and uncle Dan Lerg played hockey at Michigan from 1977-80. Lerg's cousin, Bryan Lerg, is currently a freshman forward for the Spartans.
-Nick Sucharski, F, 6-1, 175, Shoots: L; Birthday: Nov. 15, 1987
The lone Canadian recruit, Sucharski is in his second season with the Wexford Raiders of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League, where he serves as an alternate captain. Sucharski has 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 18 games this season along with 45 penalty minutes. Next fall, he hopes to enroll in MSU's Honors College, but currently he attends the same high school that produced former Spartan Mike Burkett (1990-94).
-Ryan Turek, D, 5-11, 178, Shoots: R; Birthday: Sept. 22, 1987
Turek verbally committed to MSU nearly two years ago; is in his first season with Omaha where he is a teammate of Spartan recruit Jeff Lerg. Turek spent the 2003-04 season with the Texarkana Bandits of the North American Hockey League and also played for the HoneyBaked midget team in 2002-2003. Began 2003-2004 season as HoneyBaked's captain before jumping to Texarkana, whose head coach was Jon Cooper, Turek's former HoneyBaked head coach.