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Thursday, February 12, 2009

MSU to honor former captain Smolinski

Former Michigan State captain and All-America pick Bryan Smolinski has been selected as the recipient of the 2008-09 Distinguished Alumnus Award. The award will be given at the annual Michigan State Hockey Banquet on Wednesday, March 4 at the Kellogg Center.

“Michigan State hockey shaped me to be the player and person I am now,” Smolinski said. “Hockey grooms you for life and at MSU and beyond I applied everything I learned.”

Smolinski, a native of Toledo, Ohio, played for Michigan State from 1989-93. In his four-year career, he racked up 80 goals and 101 assists for a total of 181 points. He was a part of the 1989-90 Spartan squad that captured both the CCHA regular season championship and CCHA tournament championship, as well as the 1991-92 squad that advanced to the Frozen Four on the strength of Smolinski’s game-winning goal against top-seeded Maine in the NCAA East Regional.

Smolinski’s most prolific season came as a senior when he notched 31 goals and 37 assists for 68 points. His 51 points in league play was tops in CCHA and he was named First Team All-Conference, First Team All-American, and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

“Senior Night was really the highlight of my career,” Smolinski said. “My freshman class had nine players, but by the time I was a senior, it was only Wes McCauley, Rob Woodward and me. Because I was one of those remaining three, I left Michigan State with a lot of pride and confidence.”

At the conclusion of his senior season, Smolinski jumped straight to the Boston Bruins, the team that drafted him in the first round of the 1990 NHL Draft. Smolinski logged 17 seasons in the NHL, spending seasons with the Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens. In 1,056 career regular season games, he amassed 274 goals and 377 assists for 651 career points. Smolinski also played in 123 playoff games, collecting 23 goals and 29 assists for 52 points.

His best professional season came in 1995-96 when he tallied 24 goals and 40 assists for 64 points with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In international competition, Smolinski was a member of the 1996 United States World Cup Championsip team, the only US squad to capture the title since the creation of the Canada Cup in 1976.

Smolinski currently resides in Birmingham with his wife, Julie, and their daughters, Ashtyn (8) and Joren (2) and son, Max (5).

Tickets for the MSU hockey banquet are still available. The price is $35 or $350 for a table. For more information, call 517-355-1639 or email hockey@msu.edu

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