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Retiring Michigan State coach Rick Comley under scrutiny for alleged shoving match

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Posted: Monday, March 7, 2011 4:26 am | Updated: 1:47 pm, Wed Dec 26, 2012.

FAIRBANKS — The CCHA is reviewing Friday’s postgame incident between retiring Michigan State head coach Rick Comley and Alaska Nanooks fans Robert Downes and his daughter, Amy Tallerico.

Fred Pletsch, CCHA associate commissioner, said Sunday in an e-mail to the Daily News-Miner that CCHA commissioner Tom Anastos has been in contact with representatives of Michigan State University and the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the league is conducting a thorough review of events.

Comley was reached Sunday by the Daily News-Miner but he declined to comment about the incident, which occurred after the Nanooks’ 3-2 overtime victory in Game 1 of the first-round series in the Carlson Center.

Comley was standing outside the Spartans’ locker room and about to do a postgame radio interview when Downes, a Fairbanks Superior Court judge, walked past the locker room, about three feet from Comley. Downes made a comment to Comley about the Michigan State coach disputing the referees’ calls on the game-winning goal and an apparent Spartans goal that was disallowed during regulation. The plays stood following video reviews by referees Stephen McInchak and Keith Sergott.

“I was walking away from him and I said, ‘Hey, coach. I think you should stop your whining because it doesn’t become you,’ ... which was what I was going to say,” Downes said after Saturday’s Game 2.

Downes said he was walking away before he could say the “it doesn’t become you,’’ part. Downes said he heard Comley scream at him and he turned around.

“He started screaming at me, ‘Get out of here!’” Downes said. “His eyes were big and I said, ‘It doesn’t become you, coach,’ and he came toward me.”

Downes said Comley was close to him and Tallerico, an attorney, came to her 68-year-old father’s defense.

“I said ‘Get away from my dad,’ and then he shoved me with two hands to the chest,” Tallerico said Saturday. “And I shoved him back in self-defense because he was going berserk.”

Tallerico said Comley shoved her again and that her husband, Matthew, stepped in to push Comley away. Spartans volunteer assistant coach Rob Woodward and hockey operations director Adam Nightingale also stepped in and took Comley to the Michigan State locker room.

Comley is one of just five college hockey coaches with more than 700 career wins, compiling a 783-615-110 record during 38 seasons with Lake Superior, Northern Michigan and Michigan State. He guided Northern Michigan to the NCAA Division I national title in 1991 and did likewise with Michigan State in 2007.

Contact staff writer Danny Martin at 459-7586.

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