By Matt Mackinder/Michigan State Beat Writer
Michigan State goalie Jeff Lerg became the CCHA's all-time saves leader and moved to No. 2 on the all-time NCAA list, but as with many MSU games this year, it wasn't enough as the Spartans were swept in a home-and-home set with Notre Dame last weekend.
"I think it was a cherry on top there," Lerg said. "I have had a pretty fun career here and to break a few records like that, I am very proud of myself and I am happy that Coach gave me a chance to do that. Tim Thomas is my favorite goalie to watch in the NHL, so it is pretty great that I got the chance to overtake his record."
"In the 35 years of coaching, I think he's the best I've ever coached," MSU head coach Rick Comley said of Lerg. "And I meant it from the total context of the student-athlete - never an issue, never a concern, never a worry, never a doubt. Really, he'll never get complete credit for that. Being what he is couldn't have just happened. He made it happen with the right approach to everything."
Friday night in South Bend, Drew Palmisano made 26 saves as the Spartans (10-21-5, 7-17-4-3 CCHA) were blanked, 5-0.
Lerg didn't dress for the first time in 163 games.
Last night back at Munn Ice Arena, MSU dropped a tight game, 2-1, to the second-ranked Irish.
Jay Sprague scored his first goal of the year and Lerg finished with 35 stops on Senior Night.
"I wanted to be able to win, obviously, but if we didn't, I wanted to be able to play well and give our team a chance to win the game," said Lerg. "Obviously, I knew that we tend to give up a lot of shots, so I thought going in that I had a chance to break all of those records. I just wanted to play well and not give up rebounds. I didn't want to create extra shots for them because they are a great team. I think we had to keep the emotions in check. I thought we played hard, (but) we just didn't get the win."
Lerg's save on Calle Ridderwall with 4:17 remaining in the game pushed him to second place all-time on the NCAA list. Lerg passed Thomas, who had 3,950 in his career at Vermont. Lerg finishes the regular season with 3,951 saves, which breaks Glenn Healy's former CCHA mark of 3,933 that he set at Western Michigan from 1981-1985. In the all-time NCAA record book, Lerg's total stands only behind Robbie Moore (Michigan), who had 4,434 in his career (1972-1976).
MSU will face Northern Michigan in the first round of the CCHA playoffs next weekend in Marquette.