Feb. 9, 2007
East Lansing, Mich. - Bryan Lerg did it again.
The junior centerman netted his eighth game-winning goal of the season at the 1:26 mark of overtime to propel the Spartans to a 2-1 victory over Ferris State at Munn Ice Arena on Friday night. Cousin Jeff Lerg made 33 saves to earn first star honors as Michigan State improved to 11-1-1 at home this season. The win also extended the Spartans' unbeaten streak to eight games (7-0-1) and set the stage for a huge showdown with archrival Michigan on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Bryan Lerg's goal - a nifty spin move at the left faceoff dot - materialized due to a heads-up pass by captain Chris Lawrence from the left circle. He found his centerman and lofted the pass across the slot, and Lerg's shot eluded Ferris goaltender Mitch O'Keefe. It was the junior's 19th goal of the season
Jeff Lerg was on his game, and the Spartans were better for it as the Bulldogs came out flying in the second after a scoreless first period. FSU had five shots on net in the opening four minutes of the middle frame - three being grade-A chances thwarted by the goaltender. Just over two minutes in, Adam Miller's forehand shot at the right post was snagged out of midair by a swift glove-hand move, and it was a minute later where Lerg squared up for a Cody Chupp point-blank shot to make the impressive stop. The Bulldogs held an 18-9 shot advantage at the halfway point of the second period.
The aggressiveness by the visitors finally paid off for them at the 10:11 mark of the frame, getting a two-on-one shorthanded break Matt Verdone flew up the right side and held the puck, putting a shot on net that was stopped by Lerg with a kick-save. The rebound came into the low slot, where Verdone, who was moving across the top of the goalmouth right-to-left, corralled it and flipped it into a yawning left side for a 1-0 Ferris State lead. It was the tenth goal of the season for the top-line winger, and his second shorthanded tally of the season.
The Spartans drew another power play chance at the 13:10 mark, and wasted little time knotting the equalizer. Jeff Dunne and Justin Abdelkader worked the puck high - Dunne in the high slot, Abdelkader at the right point. Dunne slid the puck below the blue line to the sophomore a second time, and Abdelkader ripped the puck past Mitch O'Keefe just fourteen seconds into the man advantage (13:24) to tie the hockey game at one.
The teams engaged in a high-flying, entertaining third period, with both netminders coming up with key saves. The Bulldogs had a man advantage for two of the final three minutes of regulation, thanks to a high sticking call whistled against Justin Abdelkader, but the Spartans killed it off, just as they had the other seven attempts on the evening. The teams headed to overtime, and Bryan Lerg made quick work to end the game and send the near-capacity crowd home with its third overtime victory in as many home series since the first of the year.
The teams will tangle again on Tuesday evening in Big Rapids. Michigan State and Michigan will face off in a 7:35 puck drop at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.
NOTES MSU is now 11-1-1 at home this season ... The Spartans skated in an overtime tilt for the fourth consecutive series, dating back to the two-game set with Alaska on Jan. 12-13. The Spartans are 3-0-2 in overtime this season, and 5-0-8 in their last 13 games which required an extra period ... The Spartan penalty kill was a perfect 7-for-7, and has extinguished 40 of its last 43 chances against ... Bryan Lerg has scored the last four game-winning goals for the Spartans, with two coming in overtime. He now shares the school record of eight game-winners in a season with Mitch Messier and Steve Beadle ... Matt Verdone's shorthanded tally was the fourth surrendered by the Spartans this season ... Jeff Lerg's 33 saves was the most he's made since a career-best 45-save effort against Havard in the GLI semifinals and just the third time he was forced to make more than 30 stops in a game this season. He made 35 earlier in the season in the 2-2 deadlock with the Bulldogs ...