Michigan State meets Maine in Frozen Four grudge match

Apr 5, 2007 - 3:58 PM ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Tim Kennedy and Michigan State are back in the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time in six years. They will need to exact a measure of revenge if they want to hang around.

The Spartans hope to take another step toward their first national title since 1986 when they take on Maine in Thursday's first national semifinal.

The third seed in the Midwest, Michigan State (24-13-3) dropped a heartbreaking 5-4 decision to the Black Bears in the regional finals last year.

But the Spartans returned to the Frozen Four thanks to Kennedy, a talented playmaking sophomore who leads the team with 40 points. The 5-11 forward is flanked by junior Bryan Lerg, who has netted a team-leading 23 goals this season.

Michigan State advanced to Friday's rematch with Maine courtesy of a 2-1 upset of Notre Dame in the regional final.

"This team knew what had to be done, and we got it done," Kennedy said. "We knew if we came out and took care of business, we had a pretty good chance of moving on."

Spartans goaltender Jeff Lerg was brilliant in the first two games of the tourney, allowing only one goal in each contest. The sophomore will be hard-pressed to keep it up Thursday against Maine (23-14-2), which boasts the nation's top-ranked power play.

The Black Bears are paced by senior forwards Michel Leveille (44 points) and Josh Soares (43), who both will make their third appearance in the Frozen Four.

Maine, the third seed in the East, hopes to win its third national title and its first since 1999. The Black Bears are coming off a 3-1 ousting of Massachusetts in the regional final.

A pair of high-scoring powerhouses face off in Thursday's other semifinal when North Dakota meets Boston College.

The Fighting Sioux (24-13-5) are making their third straight Frozen Four appearance and their 17th all-time thanks to a thrilling 3-2 overtime upset of top-seeded Minnesota in the West Regional final.

North Dakota is led by Hobey Baker finalist Ryan Duncan, a 5-8 sophomore forward who has collected an eye-popping 31 goals and 26 assists this season. The Western Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Year, Duncan leads the nation with 17 power-play tallies.

The Fighting Sioux, who feature the country's third-best power play, are seeking their eighth title and their first since 2000.

North Dakota has a tall task in beating Boston College (28-11-1), which is making its 20th trip to the Frozen Four.

"I'm just unbelievably excited about going to the Frozen Four," Eagles coach Jerry York said. "I told our players prior to the start of the game, 'This never gets old.' As much as basketball likes to get to their Final Four, I think hockey people - the Frozen Four is our pinnacle."

The second seed in the Northeast Region, the Eagles reached Thursday's showdown after coasting to a 4-0 triumph over top seed Miami in the regional final. Boston College last won the national title in 2001, the school's second all-time championship.

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