2007 NCAA Frozen Four Championship Game
Make a State-ment
Goaltender Lerg keeps MSU in it, Abdelkader's
late goal wins it.
Boston College 1
Kennedy, T. Howells
McKenzie, D. Vukovic
Jeff Lerg, 60:00, 29 saves, 1 GA
Cory Schneider, 60:00, 26 saves, 2 GA (1 ENG)
MSU 6/12; BC 8/16
Plays: MSU 1-6; BC 1-4
The frantic final moments and much more from
the Scottrade Center.
Complete with Jeff Sauer's commentary on each selection.
ST. LOUIS – The thinking before Saturday's
NCAA title game was that an extraordinary 60-minutes effort
would be required for anyone to beat Boston College’s
red-hot team. Michigan State’s third NCAA title came
after an effort of less than 60 minutes — 1.7 seconds
less to be exact.
Tournament most outstanding player Justin
Abdelkader scored the game-winner with 18.9 seconds left,
lifting the Spartans to the NCAA crown via a tightly-played
The final margin came after Chris Mueller
potted an empty-net goal, touching off a raucous celebration
behind the Spartans’ net. Rather than force a cleanup
of the sticks, gloves and helmets strewn all over the ice
for a final faceoff, Boston College coach Jerry York allowed
the officials to run the final ticks off the clock.
Abdelkader looked prepared to end the game
seconds before the game-winner, when he clanked the right
goalpost on a surprising 3-on-1 break by the Spartans.
“When it hit the post, you’re
thinking, ‘oh no, don’t tell me we hit the post
and they’re going to come back and win it and we’re
going to lose 2-1,’” said Spartans coach Rick
Comley. “And before I knew it, the puck was right
back in front and Justin put it in.”
After the puck was dug out of the corner,
winger Tim Kennedy won a battle with Brock Bradford behind
the net, centering the puck to Abdelkader, who was at the
right of the crease. Abdelkader’s quick snap shot
got past Eagles’ goalie Cory Schneider low on the
stick side, giving the Spartans their first lead of the
“They like to throw it out in front
of the net, in the middle and see what happens,” said
Schneider, who finished with 26 saves. “So he threw
it between the legs and I tried to reach out real quick
to try to get a piece of it, and I think that second when
I reached out for it kind of cost me.”
Abdelkader didn’t get a clear shot on
net on the play, as an Eagle defender was closing hard.
That was the modus operandi all night for BC, which blocked
20 shots and played solid defense to keep the Spartans off
the board for the game’s first 50 minutes.
|It's not easy being green (or
Greene): Boston College forward Matt Greene crashes
into Michigan State goalie Jeff Lerg in the third period
of Saturday's 3-1 win.
A scoreless first period was dominated both
offensively and defensively by the Eagles, who outshot State
13-6 and generally kept the Spartans away from Schneider.
The best scoring chance came with a little more than five
minutes left in the frame during a scramble in front of
the Spartans’ net. Pat Gannon swiped at a loose puck
and looked to sweep it into the net only to have Jeff Lerg
stop the puck with his paddle along the goal line.
State turned the tables in the second, outshooting
BC by a 2-to-1 margin, but emerged down by a goal. The Spartans
killed 35 seconds of 5-on-3 power play, but gave up a goal
with the Eagles still up by one man.
A nifty stick-lift move along the side boards
by Nathan Gerbe left a loose puck available for Bradford.
The top-line wing got a hold of the puck and spun to the
left faceoff dot, where he got off a low wrist shot. Lerg
looked to have the shot covered, but the puck deflected
high and past the goalie’s glove. Originally the goal
was credited to Bradford, but the scoring was changed in
the third period after reviews revealed the puck hit Brian
Boyle just below the left knee en route to the net.
It was the eighth power play goal of the season
for Boyle, who assisted on the game-winning empty net goal
late in the Eagles’ 6-4 semifinal win over North Dakota
on Thursday. Even leading with the game clock clicking down,
Boyle said they knew the Spartans were still capable and
“You always want to score another goal,”
Boyle said. “That is what we said in between periods,
going into the third, that we wanted to keep the pressure
Lerg kept the Spartans within a goal early
in the third, gloving a Bradford shot that looked net-bound
during a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush by the Eagles. BC effectively
killed the Spartans first five power plays, but the sixth
time was a charm for State. Eagles defenseman Tim Filangieri
was whistled for hooking near the midway point of the third,
and the Spartans needed just six seconds to convert.
“I thought what turned the game around
and settled it down were the power plays,” Comley
said. “And then when Kennedy’s scored, it’s
been so hard for us to score this year that when we finally
do score, our play just skyrockets.”
Off the faceoff just outside the Eagles blue
line, Abdelkader won the draw and pushed the puck ahead.
Boyle charged for the puck but missed it, allowing Kennedy
to zoom past and come in alone on Schneider. Kennedy’s
stick-side wrist shot beat the goalie, and as the next nine
minutes ran off the clock, overtime loomed.
BC entered the game riding a 13-game winning
streak, and Schneider had looked so solid in the playoffs,
that the Spartans were decided underdogs. But the efforts
of Lerg, the diminutive goalie who finished with 29 saves,
were the ones that earned a spot on the all-tournament team
and a chance to hoist the national championship trophy.
|Crash into you: Boston College
defenseman Tim Filangieri knocks Michigan State forward
Bryan Lerg off his skates.
“This is what I’ve waited for
my whole life,” Lerg said. “I’ve been
too small for every level of hockey and I’ve been
turned down by schools all along the way.”
The loss was particularly difficult for the
Eagles, who had fallen 2-1 to Wisconsin in the title game
last season. They are the first team to lose consecutive
title games since Denver fell to North Dakota in 1963 and
Michigan the following season.
“That’s what happens when you
play sports,” York said. “That’s what
you get involved with. There is going to be a winner and
there is going to be a loser. You try as hard as you can,
but there is no guarantee in this business. And I think
our kids are mature enough to understand this.”
For Michigan State, it was the first NCAA
crown in 21 years. The Spartans beat Harvard in the 1986
title game, and beat Clarkson 6-1 in 1966 for their first