Michigan State rallies to win championship

Apr 8, 2007 - 7:19 AM ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Boston College was half a period away from its third NCAA hockey championship. Its hopes slipped away, thanks to Tim Kennedy and Justin Abdelkader.

Kennedy tied the game midway through the third period with his fifth goal in seven games and Abdelkader scored the winning tally with 18.9 seconds remaining as Michigan State skated to a 3-1 victory over the Eagles in the Frozen Four title game.

Trailing, 1-0, after two periods, the Spartans (26-13-3) forged a tie during a power play at 9:53 of the third. After Michigan State won a faceoff just outside the blue line, Kennedy picked up the puck and skated in before firing a shot inside the left goalpost for his 18th goal of the season.

"We really didn't know where to set up on the faceoff and I kind of went in halfway on the scrum after the drop," Boston College senior forward Brian Boyle said. "You're always taught to go all or nothing. It's something that just lapsed for a little quick second, and they jumped right on it and got the goal."

"It's been so hard for us to score this year, and when we finally do score, our play just skyrockets," Spartans coach Rick Comley said.

With the contest seemingly headed to overtime, Abdelkader received a second chance moments after ringing a shot off the right post. He made the most of it, receiving a feed from behind the net by Kennedy and beating goaltender Cory Schneider from the doorstep to give the Spartans a 2-1 edge.

"Tim made an unbelievable play," said Abdelkader, who was named the Most Outstanding Player. "He's so shifty down low, he can cut back and find me in the slot. I knew when Timmy had the puck down low and made that first cut and got behind the defenseman, I just had to find a spot open in the slot and he hit me with a perfect pass, and I was just fortunate for it to go home.

"Growing up, you're always like, 'Scoring the game-winner for the national championship or the Stanley Cup is the ultimate,' but you're always thinking as a kid to score that game-winning goal. ... It's awesome."

Comley had nothing but praise for the hero.

"He's a force on the ice," said Comley, who became the third coach in NCAA history to win championships with two different schools. "He's physical, he skates well and he'll play in the National Hockey League. He's done such a great job for us."

Comley also led Northern Michigan to the title in 1991.

Chris Mueller's empty-netter sealed the win for Michigan State, which won its third championship and first since 1986.

The third-period comeback was the first in a title game since 2000, when North Dakota rallied from a 2-1 deficit against Boston College to post a 4-2 victory.

Boyle netted the lone tally for Boston College (29-11-2), which had its 13-game winning streak snapped in losing in the title game for the second straight season.

"It felt different this year," Boyle said. "We were pretty confident, but I don't think we were too cocky or anything like that. We were just confident in our ability, the way we were playing, and if we stuck to that, good things would happen. That's not always the case, and you have to give them a lot of credit. They just kept coming at us, and in the end, it's just as devastating as last year."

"I thought the game was real tight-checked and close hockey," Eagles coach Jerry York said. "They capitalized on their chance. It looked like a little scrum behind the net. They threw it out front and it was a quick hit past our goaltender."

After a scoreless first period, the third in championship history, the Eagles broke through in the second while on the power play. Brock Bradford intercepted a clearing attempt along the left wing boards and fired a shot from the faceoff dot that Boyle deflected past netminder Jeff Lerg at 6:50.

It was the first man-advantage tally allowed in the tournament by Michigan State, which had successfully killed its previous 15 penalties.

Lerg finished with 29 saves for the Spartans.

"It's kind of what I've been waiting for my whole life, just to prove everyone wrong on a national level," the 5-6 Lerg said. "I've been too small for a lot of different levels to play hockey and I've been turned down by schools along the way. I've been very fortunate that coach Comley really gave me this great opportunity to come here."

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