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Friday, May 05, 2006

Spartans announce incoming class

Michigan State head coach Rick Comley has announced the addition of forwards Matt Schepke (Warren) and Ryan Turek (Northville) to the hockey class of 2010. The duo, along with forward Jay Sprague and rearguard Michael Ratchuk, will enroll at Michigan State in the fall and be members of the 2006-07 hockey team.

"I'm very pleased with our recruiting class," noted Comley. "We think that we have added speed and offensive skill, and these players will complement the assets we already have in our returning players."

Schepke, 21, will enter MSU in the fall as a sophomore after spending much of the last two seasons with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. He had a breakout season in 2005-06, as Schepke led both the USHL and his team in goals (37) and power-play tallies (16). He added 19 assists for 58 points on the year, leading his team in scoring and ranking seventh overall in the USHL. Schepke, who played briefly for Michigan Tech in the 2004-05 season before going to Omaha, will have three seasons in Green and White.

"Matt really had an exceptional year in Omaha," said Comley. "He's a little older, and has the ability to step in right away and help us. He shoots the puck well and is a very smart player. I think he really fits right into the mold of the type of player who is emerging in our program right now."

Turek (pictured from his HoneyBaked major midget year in 2002-2003) is a draft-eligible 18-year-old who was a teammate of Schepke's in Omaha last season, and will skate later this month at the NHL Draft Combine in Toronto. Turek is a gifted skater who can play either forward or defense, and scored 17 goals and added 11 assists as a blueliner in Omaha this season. He was ranked in the third round of American skaters (69th overall) in the final NHL Central Scouting Rankings prior to the Entry Draft, which will be held June 24 in Vancouver.

"Ryan is a very skilled player who can be effective both at forward and defense," added Comley. "He brings a new dimension to our team in that if we play him at defense, he can bring the puck up the ice and get us going offensively. He'll also be an asset on the power play."

Turek and Schepke join early signees Sprague and Ratchuk. Sprague completed his season with the Indiana Ice with 17 goals and 16 assists in 56 games. Six of his goals came on the power play, while four stood as game-winners. He also amassed 58 penalty minutes.

Ratchuk recently helped the US Under-18 team to a gold medal - its second straight - at the IIHF World Under-18 championship in Sweden. Ratchuk assisted on the game-winning goal in the gold medal game against Finland, and he appeared in 55 games overall on the year with 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points.

"Ratchuk is an exciting player who can add a new dimension to our game, and Sprague is a big, strong, intelligent player who can also step in right away," noted Comley.

The Spartans lose five players from the 2005-06 squad to graduation, and also lose junior captain Drew Miller, who recently signed a professional contract with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. MSU returns 18 letterwinners for next season from a team that went 25-12-8 on the season (14-7-7 CCHA), captured the CCHA Tournament title, and advanced to the East Regional Final of the NCAA Tournament.

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