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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Michigan State adds to incoming class for fall 2007

Michigan State announced today the signing of three players to National Letters of Intent to attend the university next fall.

Corey Tropp (Grosse Pointe), Dustin Gazely (Novi) and AJ Sturges will join Jeff Petry (Farmington Hills) and Andrew Rowe (Muskegon) in the incoming class for the Spartans in the fall of 2007.

"I think this class will well complement the elements we will have in our returning players," noted MSU head coach Rick Comley. "I think that it will fit our needs to round out what we expect to be a very competitive team in 2007-08."

Tropp, a July 1989 birthdate, is in his second season playing for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League. A 5-10, 180-pound right winger, Tropp is the squad's current leading scorer with four goals and nine assists for 13 points. Five of his points have come on the power play (1g, 4a). He is well on his way to bettering his offensive numbers from a year ago, when he recorded seven goals and eight assists in 46 games - he had five points in 12 playoff games last spring as well.

Gazely is another offensive-minded winger. Standing at 5-8, 150 pounds and in his second year with the Sioux City Musketeers, Gazely has seven points (3-4-7) in 11 games, and is second on his team in penalty minutes (20). He is an October 1988 birthdate.

"Corey has gained some great experience playing in the USHL, and I really think that he will be able to step in right away and provide some offense for us," noted Comley. "I think that Dustin is a very hard worker with a great intensity, and he also possesses some speed to his game. I think he will be another addition who will be able to be productive offensively and add to that area of our game."

Tropp and Gazely join Rowe as committed forwards for the Class of 2011. Rowe is a teammate of Gazely in Sioux City, and currently has a goal and three assists for four points in 11 games. A January 1988 birthdate, Rowe stands at 6-1, 180 pounds, and will bring a great defensive presence to the Spartan roster.

"Andrew has great size and is a good skater with a great understanding of the game. He really brings a well-rounded game onto the ice, which will be a complement to our roster," notes Comley.

The addition of Sturges to the Spartans continues that family's ties to the Michigan State program - he joins his older brother, Dan, on the roster, and their father, John, was a four-year letterwinner for the Spartans (1972-76) who still stands eighth all-time in career assists (132). Sturges is currently in his second season in Ann Arbor with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program (NTDP), where he currently has three goals and four assists for seven points. A big (6-4, 190) defenseman, Sturges is on the cusp of bettering his numbers from last year, when he posted four goals and four assists. He helped the Team USA to a silver medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge a year ago, and has played an everyday role for the U-18 squad which owns a 3-4-0 overall record (with two overtime losses) to NCAA Division I programs this year.

Sturges and Petry (6-3, 200) add two big, skilled defensemen to the Spartan roster. Petry has made an impressive start for the defending Tier 1 National Champion Des Moines Buccaneers as the team's top-scoring defenseman (12 GP, 6-4-10). He recorded 15 points (1g, 14a) during his first season in Des Moines, helping that team to the Clark Cup Championship. Petry, a December 1987 birthdate, was the Edmonton Oilers' first selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft in the second round at No. 45 overall. Edmonton did not hold a first-round pick.

"AJ not only continues a strong family connection to Michigan State University and our hockey program, but also brings a stability and good experience playing against collegiate competition to our defensive corps," revealed the head coach. "We're very excited to add two large, skilled defensemen to the mix for next year. Petry has a tremendous future - he has great size and offensive skills, and will help us in all areas of our game."

Michigan State will lose five players to graduation from the 2006-07 squad - defensemen Tyler Howells, Chris Snavely and Ethan Graham, forward/defenseman Brandon Warner and forward and captain Chris Lawrence.

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