This weekend, I'll get my first "live" look at the Thrashers 2008 first round draft pick Daulton Levielle of Michigan State. The Spartans play a weekend series against Miami in Oxford, Ohio. I'll be there calling both games for CBS College Sports (Directv, Channel 613, DISH Network, Channel 152). Friday's face-off is 8pm and Saturday's is set for 5:00pm (all times eastern).
On Tuesday, I spoke via conference call with MSU head coach Rick Comley regarding Levielle's progress from the Golden Horseshoe League to big-time Division 1 college hockey. Comley said he's been pleased with the progress of his freshman in East Lansing, who is starting to become a team leader. Since his arrival on campus last fall, Levielle has added 15 pounds to his frame and is playing in the 165 lb-170lb range while getting used to a more physical style of play. Comley added the kid has very good offensive instincts, but said his biggest adjustment to college hockey has been learning to play defensively, especially down low in the zone and along the goal line.
It's been a tough season for the 2007 national champions. Several key members of that team graduated last spring while three other players left early to turn pro. At mid-season, a defenseman was dismissed from the team and another left to go play in the United States Hockey League. For Levielle and the rest of the very young Spartans, gaining experience hasn't been an issue.
Comley talked about players being pushed into roles sooner than anticipated. Levielle has been one of those guys. So far this season, he's tallied 10 points in 22 games and has been the team's #2 center. Against Alaska on January 2nd, he figured in on both Spartans goals in their 2-1 win.
After the weekend series, I'll make sure I follow-up with a recap of his play.