Justin Abdelkader's goal with 18.9 seconds left in the third period capped a furious comeback for Michigan State as the Spartans upset Boston College Saturday night, 3-1, in St. Louis to win their third NCAA championship.
Brian Boyle had given the Eagles a 1-0 lead early in the second on a BC power play, only to have Tim Kennedy tie the game midway through the third period six seconds into a man-advantage.
Just minutes before Kennedy's goal, MSU goalie Jeff Lerg made perhaps the save of the year on a shorthanded attempt by Boyle. After the huge stop, Lerg pumped his catching glove.
"I was pretty fired up," Lerg said. "We played with a lot of emotion. I don't usually show that much emotion after a save."
Abdelkader's heroics preceded a Chris Mueller empty-netter with 1.2 ticks left and the celebration was on in St. Louis in front of an NCAA tournament record crowd of 19,432 at the Scottrade Center.
Abdelkader was also named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
"We know we're not fancy and we know we're not picked by anybody to win anything," MSU head coach Rick Comley said. "But you know what, what a great, great group of kids. They've wanted so badly to walk around with their heads high and now they're going home with a national championship."
Comley also won it all with Northern Michigan in 1991. He and Boston College's Jerry York are among three coaches to win championships at two schools.
For Boston College, this was their second straight heartbreaker as they dropped last season's title game to Wisconsin.
"When we sign up to play sports, there's going to be a winner and a loser," said York. "There's no guarantees in this business and I think our kids are old enough to understand that."
MSU, who finishes 26-13-3, has now won titles in 1966, 1986 and 2007. Michigan State was the second No. 3 seed to make it to the championship game since the bracket was expanded to 16 teams in 2003. Boston College made it last year as a No. 3 seed.
Photo by Skip Strandberg/USCHO