College Hockey Scoreboard from CHN

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spartans edge Irish, off to St. Louis

Michigan State got goals from Chris Mueller and Tim Kennedy and a spectacular effort from Jeff Lerg in net to earn a hard-fought 2-1 victory over top-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday evening in the NCAA Midwest Regional final in Grand Rapids.

By virtue of the win, the Spartans advance to the Frozen Four for the 11th time overall and first time since 2001.

Michigan State, which improved to 24-13-3 with the win, will play Maine in the national semifinals on Thursday, April 5 in St. Louis at the Scottrade Center. The NCAA Championship game will be played on Saturday, April 7.

"It was a great hockey game and I want to commend Notre Dame on a great season," MSU head coach Rick Comley said. "They just kept coming at us. Both the BU team last night (a 5-1 win for MSU) and this team tonight were very tough. As we have done all year, we were a very resilient team. We have had the tendency to get ahead and then give up leads, so you never know what is going to happen, but obviously we held on. We are very excited to be in this situation."

Lerg, who finished with 19 saves, said he was out to make a statement this weekend.

"First off, I have said all along that these guys (BU goalie John Curry and Notre Dame goalie David Brown) deserve all the recognition they get," Lerg said. "They have been numbers one and two in the nation all year. But, I know that when I am on my game and keep things simple, I can compete with anyone. I know that if I can make all the saves I am supposed to plus two or three big ones, I give the team a chance to win. I was confident, and I knew I couldn't let a weak one in or they would have shut the door at the other end. It was just one of those things where I wanted to make a statement and prove myself. We have had an up and down year, but things are on the up now."

Brown made 23 saves for Notre Dame, a team that crept back into the game late in the third period. A Brett Blatchford (Temperance) slapshot from the left point was deflected by winger Evan Rankin (Portage) at the right post over the glove hand of Lerg to pull the Irish to within a goal. Despite a penalty against the Spartans and Brown pulled in favor of an extra skater, the Spartan defense was up to the task and held on for the one-goal victory.

Kennedy, Mueller and Tyler Howells were named to the All-Tournament Team, while Lerg earned Regional MVP honors.

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