EAST LANSING — Michigan State hockey head coach Danton Cole announced on Thursday (Sept. 30) that junior Sam Saliba has been elected team captain for the upcoming 2018-19 season. Additionally, the Spartans will have four assistant captains in seniors Brennan Sanford and Cody Milan; junior Taro Hirose; and sophomore Tommy Apap. The assistants will alternate duties with two of the four wearing A’s each game.
“Since I arrived here, Sam has consistently demonstrated strong leadership qualities on and off the ice,” Cole said. “He sets a great example in all facets of being a student-athlete and we’re proud to have him as our captain.
“Brennan, Cody, Taro and Tommy have also emerged as quality leaders, each in their own way. These four young men, along with Sam, will be tremendous assets in leadership and also in driving the culture forward.”
“To be named captain of such a storied program and a place I love so much is an absolute honor to me,” Saliba said. “To be able to be in the same group as guys like Torey Krug, Jim Slater and two of our current coaches in Chris Luongo and Brad Fast, is hard to put into words. It means the world to me that my teammates have the confidence in me to be their leader.”
Saliba, who served as one of three assistant captains last season, has never missed a game in his two seasons with the Spartans. The native of Lincolnshire, Illinois, had six goals and three assists last season while earning Academic All-Big Ten honors. Saliba was also the inaugural recipient of the program’s Stephen Swistak Memorial Scholarship, awarded to the player who embodies hard work, dedication, teamwork and grit.
Prior to coming to MSU, Saliba served as captain of the Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) in 2015-16.
Sanford also served as an assistant captain last season. The business major was an American Hockey Coaches Association All-America Scholar as well as a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. Sanford, who hails from East Lansing and has appeared in 102 career games, also earned the 2018 Amo Bessone Award for athletic and academic achievement and community participation.
Milan is one of the Spartans’ top-returning scorers after producing a career-high 21 points (6g, 15a) last season, which ranked fourth on the team. The communication major is a native of White Lake.
Hirose led all Spartans last season in points (42) and assists (30) and finished the regular season second in the Big Ten in both categories. The All-Big Ten second team selection was also voted the Spartans’ MVP and Outstanding Offensive Player. His 30 assists were the most by a Spartan since 2004-05 and he became just the fourth Spartan in 10 seasons to eclipse the 40-point plateau.
A Bloomfield Hills native, Apap appeared in 30 games as a freshman last season and ranked second in the Big Ten in faceoff winning percentage at .582. He also served as a captain for both his junior and high school teams.
The Spartans will meet the University of Windsor in an exhibition game on Sunday, Oct. 7 before beginning the regular season by hosting Northern Michigan, Oct. 12-13, at Munn Ice Arena. Season tickets are currently available through the MSU ticket office and MSUSpartans.com.
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