EAST LANSING, Mich. – Former Northern Michigan University Hockey coach, Athletic Director and current Michigan State Hockey Coach Rick Comley has announced his retirement effective at the end of the season for the Spartans.
The Stratford, Ontario, native guided Northern Michigan to CCHA regular-season championships and league postseason titles in 1980 and 1981. Comley also guided the Wildcats to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular-season crown in 1991 and WCHA playoff championships in 1989, 1991 and 1992. He is one of three individuals to have coached regular-season champions in the WCHA and CCHA, joining Bill Selman (North Dakota 1967 and St. Louis 1973, 1975 and 1977) and former MSU assistant coach George Gwozdecky (Miami 1993 and Denver 2002, 2005) on that exclusive list.
Comley's greatest team in his coaching career came while he was here at NMU. His 1990-91 team captured the WCHA regular-season and playoff championships and capped the year by winning the NCAA title. The Wildcats posted a 38-5-4 overall record and a 25-3-4 mark in conference play, concluding the season with a thrilling 8-7 come-from-behind victory over Boston University in triple overtime in the National Championship game in St. Paul, Minn. NMU finished the season with a school record 26-game unbeaten streak.
Prior to the 1990-91 season, Comley's guided the 1979-80 squad which rolled to a 34-6-1 overall record and a 17-3-0 first-place standing in the CCHA. The Wildcats would go on to win the conference playoff crown and advance to the NCAA championship game before falling to North Dakota, 5-2, in the title match. In addition to national postseason appearances in 1980 and 1991, Comley took Northern Michigan teams to the NCAA Tournament on five other occasions - 1980-81, 1988-89, 1991-92, 1992-93 and 1998-99.
Comley has been presented the Spencer Penrose Memorial Award as college hockey's national coach of the year in 1980 and 1991. He was named CCHA Coach of the Year in 1980 and 1981, and was honored as WCHA Coach of the Year in 1989 and 1991. He also served as coach for the West team at the 1981 Senior East-West All-Star Game.
In addition to serving as NMU hockey coach, Comley spent 13 years as the school's athletic director from 1987-2000. During his tenure as AD, Northern Michigan constructed the Superior Dome and Berry Events Center, home of the hockey and men's and women's basketball programs, and the Tom Izzo-Steve Mariucci Academic Center.
While serving as AD here NMU’s 13-sport program enjoyed a widespread success under Comley's leadership. The football program produced 10 winning seasons and advanced to the NCAA Division II semifinals in 1987. The women's volleyball team won seven Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) titles and won NCAA Division II national championships in 1993 and 1994. The NMU women's basketball squad won two GLIAC championships, made 10 trips to the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Regional Tournament, won two regional championships and made one Elite Eight appearance. The men's basketball program won two GLIAC Championships and made three visits to the NCAA Division II Tournament. The women's swimming team won five GLIAC titles, including four in a row, and the men's and women's Nordic skiing teams competed on the national level with several student-athletes chosen for national squads that competed in Europe.
Comley was a four-year letterwinner (1967-71) in hockey at Lake Superior State, Comley was a two-time NAIA All-American and served as team captain as a senior in 1971. He was voted the team's most valuable player and won Lake Superior State's Outstanding Athlete Award in 1971.
He earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Lake Superior State in 1972 and a master's degree in education from Northern Michigan in 1973. He was an honor student at Lake Superior, receiving the 1971 Kiwanis Scholastic Award in the School of Liberal Arts. He was inducted into the LSSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996 and into Northern Michigan's in 1998.
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