The Spartans won it all this year.
Michigan State University beat the Eagles of Boston College this evening to win the NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship. The Spartans played a very exciting game to come from behind and win. There were no goals in the first period, only the third time in history for a 0-0 score at the first intermission in a championship game. BC took a 1-0 lead over MSU in the second period, which held through the second intermission. Again, this was just the third time for a championship game to have only a single goal by the second break. The teams were very evenly matched, even if the ESPN commentators refused to acknowledge it.
In the middle of the third period, MSU won a face off in the neutral zone and their top scorer, Tim Kennedy, simply drove straight in and scored with a beautiful shot to the side of the net to tie the game at 1. At that time, I predicted a 3-1 win for Michigan State, with the final goal scored on an empty net. The pace of the game picked up and, amazingly, with 18.9 seconds left, Justin Abdelkader put in the game winner (off a beautiful assist from Kennedy). Boston College came out with an empty net and after a few tense seconds, the puck was cleared to Spartan Chris Mueller who put in an insurance goal with 1.2 seconds on the clock. The celebration started and the Eagle’s coach, in a classy act, had the officials run the remaining time off and sound the final horn.
Final score: Michigan State 3, Boston College 1.
We saw a few familiar faces on TV celebrating in the crowd in St. Louis, including a close/direct shot of a friend. The best part of the post-game festivities, though, was the interview with the MSU goalkeeper, Jeff Lerg, who said he knew they could win it, “if I made every save I was supposed to make, plus added two or three more big ones.” The biggest disappointment was that MSU won its 3rd National Championship in Hockey, 21 years after the previous one (1986), on a weekend when most students were home for Easter, so downtown East Lansing had no fan gathering. (The snow and 24 degree temperature did not help.)
I will always remember the date of this victory for MSU, as it comes on my son’s 18th birthday. Happy Birthday, James!