MSU Spartans
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Michigan State 3, Notre Dame 1
 
 
 

 

 
 

Jan. 11, 2008

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Michigan State Head Coach Rick Comley

On tonight's game...
It was a really good game, and it was hard fought. It was intense, obviously. These two teams are good teams, and evenly matched. When we play each other, they are going to be those types of games.

On playing Notre Dame...
This is our best game, I think. So many games, we have gone into with that expectation that we are going to win - by everybody. This one, it was a tossup going in, and I think it had good emotion. I respect Jeff (Jackson) so much, because he has that team ready. You could tell that there was a lot of matching going on, from both sides. So, you are going to get quality play with good players. It was physical, but not stupid.

On the atmosphere...
It was great. It's something you'd love to have every game. It's a great building to begin with, and when you put that many people in here, they kind of smother you in. They were involved, too; they were active.

On getting the first win of the series...
It is really good. It has been a tough year for us. I haven't talked too much about it, but it has been tough. Now the pressure is on them; they need to get [a win]. I expect the same type of game, but we needed to win against a good team.

On Jeff Lerg's play...
He was really good, probably his most consistent from start to finish. He has played pretty darn well for us, but there have been some pucks going in that are weird. Tonight they had some chances in the first [period] that they couldn't get a handle on. He made a couple really good saves.

Notre Dame Head Coach Jeff Jackson

Overall impressions...
I thought that we played pretty well for the most part. We did a pretty good job, at times, keeping the puck down low, and doing some things better with the puck than maybe we have been in the past. It came down to our defensive transition at the end, where we broke down.

On Notre Dame getting numerous scoring chances...
It's been like that since Christmas break. We had our chances, but we're just not finishing ...We've got guys that can finish; they just tense up around the net sometimes. It's frustrating, but that's one thing I can't coach.

On the up-and-down pace to the game...
It's two good teams, so that is going to happen. It's going to be up-and-down and back-and-forth just because you've got two good teams that respond to situations like that. Whether it's a big penalty kill or a big save, you can get momentum from that.

Michigan State Senior Forward Chris Mueller

On who knocked in the second goal...
I don't know; it was wild. I think Abdelkader did. I know I got a stick on it, but I think he got the last poke. So, all around it was just a good battle in front, and we're thankful it went in. And thankful (Justin) Abdelkader and (Michael) Ratchuck didn't hit it with a high stick, because they both took swings at it and missed it. Good thing they didn't play baseball.

On being able to win a one-goal game...
It was just a huge step for us. And we have to continue on Sunday, obviously. But, like you said, that's playoff hockey. I mean, I think we had a sold out barn; the crowd was into it. Notre Dame is a great team nationally, and league-wise they're right up there. They're disciplined, and have good coaching. And we're going to see them Sunday, obviously, and definitely in the playoffs, and maybe the national tournament. So I'm just proud of the guys; the way they battled and we showed a sign of maturity just holding on. Jeff was huge between the pipes. And we just battled and that's playoff hockey - it was just a great game to be in, and I had a lot of fun.

On if this is the most consistent game from start to finish for the Spartans...
Yeah, I think so. I guess you could say the game we won where we scored eight goals was, but this was a better test for us. We took a lot bigger step in this game than we did in that game. And we played hard for sixty minutes, didn't take too many penalties, didn't put ourselves in any poor situations, and our defense played really. Well, we worked on a lot of that this week. I thought [our defensemen] played really well, and they made passes to us forwards. And our younger guys are hitting; our older guys are hitting, so we're just leading by example. Everybody's just being a Spartan. There are no rookies or anything, and we just look like a hockey team right now.

Michigan State Junior Goalie Jeff Lerg

On getting a big win...
It's definitely a good feeling. For us to score that late goal and hold on was huge. It was a really good game, obviously, with all of the back-and-forth. Fortunately for us, Abs (Justin Abdelkader) stepped up and got one.

On Michigan State surviving a swarming Notre Dame power play...
They had a couple of good chances there. I was gassed at the end of it. I was up and down and going from side-to-side. They puck was flying all over the place; they were really moving it well. We were all real tired after that, so it was good to end the period and get a nice break. That kept me in the game right there.

On Justin Abdelkader's game-winning goal...
That was a perfect way to end that game. You could tell that was how it probably going to end. The ice wasn't too good towards the end of the game, so it probably wasn't going to be a picture perfect play.

On Michigan State's defense in the final minute...
They really didn't have a good chance. We had a couple of good blocks, and that's what has to happen for us. They're going to be really fired up coming out on Sunday though, trying to get a split out of this.

Michigan State Junior Forward Nick Sucharski

On getting the win...
It was huge for us, for sure. It was something that we needed to do, something for ourselves that we needed to prove to ourselves. We needed to prove it to the league, and we needed to prove it to the nation exactly where we stand. This was our first game in a while that's really been a test for us with a tough team; I think they were ranked fifth or so in the nation. It's good that we came through in the clutch.

On the team's consistency throughout the game...
That was a battle; that was a playoff-type game. We were in it right until the end, and we just kept telling ourselves to keep working. Pretty much hard work won that game tonight for us.

On the team's momentum heading into Sunday's game in South Bend...
It's huge, but at the same time last year, we struggled at Notre Dame. I think we got our butts kicked. On the road, though, we've played really well this year, especially in the CCHA. That's something that we look back on. Every game's a new game, and even though we had a great game tonight, we just need to make sure that we bring it Sunday.

Michigan State Junior Forward Justin Abdelkader

On the atmosphere surrounding the game...
It's two really good teams; two teams that are going to be there in the end, and it was a good win for us. We've gotten a lot of grief for not beating many teams over .500, and Notre Dame's a really good team. It was a good, quality home win for us. Now, we have to be ready for Sunday.

On the tip-in goal to win the game...
I think it was kind of a frenzy. It was everyone scrambling everywhere, trying to hit the puck, swinging at it, and hopefully, hit it and it'll go in. I think that was kind of what it was, everyone was trying to hit it. The goalie was trying to make a save, and it was one of those plays that it was fortunate for us for it to go in.

On the rivalry with Notre Dame...
I would say it's almost as big as Michigan. They came out gunning for us. They were kind of frustrated with how things ended last season, and they kind of came with a chip on their shoulder. With what happened last year, they think they should have beaten us, and they thought they should have won it all. So, they came with a chip on their shoulder. I think we did too; we wanted to prove that we weren't a push-over, and what happened last year wasn't a fluke. So that was big for us.

 

 

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