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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

As a freshman, Tim Crowder was just happy to be on the Michigan State hockey team.

He never thought he’d have such an immediate impact.

Crowder is sixth in scoring for the Spartans and leads all Michigan State freshmen with 21 points. In addition, his 11 goals rank second on the squad.

“I am doing pretty well,” he said. “It’s pretty good that I can step in and contribute right away.”

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound right wing was the Penguins’ 2005 fifth-round pick (126th overall). He has blossomed into an accurate goal-scorer at Michigan State. He leads all Spartans regulars with a .169 shooting percentage (11 goals on 65 shots).

“It’s just awesome that the coaches are giving me an opportunity to play,” he said. “I am just happy to help the team out and be a part of their success.”

Michigan State (20-10-8) wrapped up its regular-season schedule with a nine-game unbeaten streak (6-0-3). The Spartans finished second in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. They begin postseason play this weekend in the CCHA quarterfinals.

Crowder, a native of Victoria, British Columbia, is impressed with the atmosphere of college hockey on the East Lansing campus.

“It’s awesome here. It’s a great sport here,” he said. “The fans really get into it. It gets louder and louder each game. I am just happy to be a part of that.”

Crowder hopes to continue to find postseason success this year. Last season in the British Columbia Hockey League, his South Surrey Eagles team won the Fred Page Cup championship. Crowder joined the team at the trading deadline as he was dealt from Victoria. In 56 total games, he racked up 23 goals and 27 assists. In 16 playoff games, he had three goals and 12 assists to rank seventh in BCHL postseason scoring.

“It’s great coming into college because I have four years to prove myself,” he said. “Hopefully, I can improve every year and get better and stronger.”

Crowder was thrilled the Penguins drafted him.

“It’s awesome. I am really happy about Pittsburgh,” he said. “Hopefully, I get the opportunity to come in there and show my stuff, too.”

The Penguins are building a strong future with its many talented youngsters led by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury. Crowder feels fortunate to be a part of Pittsburgh’s future.

“In the next few years, Pittsburgh is going to be an awesome team,” he said. “I Just can’t wait to one day be a part of that.”

Until then, Crowder will work hard at adding more muscle to his big frame.

“I just want to get stronger and quicker. I want to get a better knowledge of the game and have more patience,” he said. “I just want to get better game-in and game-out and work as hard as I can. Hopefully, our team here will continue to do that, too.”


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