World Championship Flashback: John-Michael Liles
more than two dozen former collegians slated to participate in the
2005 IIHF World Championship, our former college hockey heroes will
be trying to make memories on one of the sport's biggest stages.
With that in mind, Inside College Hockey takes this opportunity
to reflect on some of those players' memorable college moments.
there's no U.S. television coverage of the games,
you can watch them all on the web through a service
offered by MediaZone.com,
a sponsor of INCH's World Championship coverage. |
complete stats, standings and more, visit the tournament's
official web site at IHWC.net. | Link
John-Michael Liles committed to Michigan State in the fall of 1998,
I’ll admit that I was skeptical about his chances of success
at the college level. At about 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, I wondered
about his ability to handle the physical side of the CCHA while
trying to contribute offensively.
and officials with the U.S. National Team Development Program gave
me reason to hope when they said: "Don’t worry about
Liles. He’s going to be fine. He can skate, he’ll get
stronger and he’ll be very good offensive defenseman.’’
wasn’t long into his freshman season that Liles won me over
and had Spartan fans shaking their heads.
showed a knack for bringing the puck out of his zone quickly and
smoothly, eluding forecheckers along the way and getting open for
good scoring chances.
his Spartan career, Liles was particularly adept on the power play
at taking the puck off the boards at the right point, moving to
his left and getting in great position for a pass or shot. He was
uncanny in getting shots through defenders and on goal.
Woolley (1988-91) was one of the most exciting Spartan defenseman
I’ve ever watched. Liles, who scored a MSU career record 44
goals, might have been even better at scoring goals and bringing
fans out of their seats. He had eight goals as a freshman, seven
as a sophomore and 13 and 16 in his final two years. He led the
Spartans in scoring as a junior and senior.
Liles took shots off passes and rocketed them into the top corners
of the net. Other times, he’d take a quick look and beat goaltenders
with low shots.
Liles attended his first NHL training camp with the Avalanche, I
first thought that if he made a good showing and played well in
the minors early on, he might get a chance to get called up later
in the season.
that I doubted him coming into MSU, I thought, maybe he’d
surprise again as an NHL rookie.
now’s among a new group of talented American players who will
be striving for gold medals over the next several years.
Koepke has covered Michigan State hockey for the Lansing
State Journal for the last 19 seasons.
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