Michigan State goaltender Chad Alban's empty-net, 180-foot goal sparked celebration in Munn Ice Arena and capped off a historic night in college hockey as Michigan State beat Ferris State, 6-3. Alban, considered the premier puck-handling goaltender in college hockey and a favorite for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given to the nation's top player, got the puck in the corner to the back right of Michigan State's goal. He fired a perfect shot from close to the back boards which bounced several times and glided into the left side of the empty Ferris State net with 13 seconds remaining.
"Everything was perfect," Alban said. "The defensemen held up their forwards and I had plenty of room. I let it go and it looked good." Alban was mobbed as his teammates all left the Michigan State bench in jubilation. The sellout Munn Arena crowd of 6,511 exploded as well. Upon returning to the Spartan bench, Alban received a hug from head coach Ron Mason. Alban is believed to be the fourth college goaltender ever to score a goal and the first to actually shoot the puck into an empty net. Maine's Jim Tortorella shot a puck against Vasby of Sweden in 1980 which was mishandled by the Vasby goaltender. In 1989, Damian Rhodes got credit for a goal when he was the last Michigan Tech player to touch the puck before it went in the Colorado College net. Earlier this year, Andy Allen of Vermont scored against Harvard when a Harvard pass from behind the net deflected off his stick and into an empty Crimson goal. Alban, who handles the puck more than 30 times per game not counting saves, also had an assist on the evening on Michigan State's third goal. He has a goal and nine assists (10 points) now in his four-year career. Alban is not bad at stopping the puck either, and entered tonight leading the nation in both goals-against average (1.54) and save percentage (.925). He is the leader of the second-ranked Michigan State team (28-4-5 overall, 20-4-4 and in first place in the CCHA) and was featured in this week's Sports Illustrated as the magazine's choice for the Hobey Baker Award. The night was historic for another reason for Alban, as the victory was the 83rd of his career, equaling Jason Muzzatti for the Michigan State record. Tonight was also Senior Night at Munn Ice Arena.
Chad Alban: "Everything was perfect. The defensemen held up their forwards and I had plenty of room. I let it go and it looked good. "Celebrating with my teammates was a lot of fun. People have talked to me about scoring a goal before, but it was a feeling I never could have anticipated."
Michigan State head coach Ron Mason: "I've seen it on TV in the NHL a few times, and I knew that if anyone could do it, it would be Chad. That puts the icing on the cake for him."
MSU senior defenseman and team captain Tyler Harlton: "It was an amazing feeling to watch the puck going down the ice. We all knew Chad could do it; he has a better shot than half our team."
Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels: "It's hard for us, but at the same time, I think it's great for college hockey. I think it's exciting, I really do. Had that been the difference in the game, I wouldn't think it was so good, but given the circumstances, it was a great thing."
- Alban is the fourth college hockey goaltender to score a goal and the first to shoot the puck into an empty net. The others:
- Maine's Jim Tortorella, vs. Vasby of Sweden, 1980; the Vasby goalie mishandled Tortorella's shot
- Michigan Tech's Damian Rhodes, vs. Colorado College, 1989; Rhodes was the last MTU player to touch the puck before CC put it in their own goal 3) Vermont's Andy Allen, vs. Harvard, 1997-98; a Harvard pass from behind the net deflects off Allen's stick and goes into the empty Harvard net
- Alban leads the nation in both GAA (1.54 entering tonight) and save percentage (.925)
- Alban routinely handles the puck over 30 times a game, not counting saves
- Alban is considered a top candidate for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, which has only been given to one netminder in its 17-year history (Minnesota's Robb Stauber, 1987-88)
- Alban tied the Michigan State record for career victories tonight with his 83rd
- Alban also had an assist in the game, giving him one goal and three assists on the year and one goal and nine assists on his career
GAME SUMMARY Michigan State 6, Ferris State 3 Feb. 28, 1998 * Munn Ice Arena, East Lansing, Mich. Team Score by Periods Shots by Period Pen-Min PP FSU 1-0-2--3 11-4-11--26 2-4 0-2 MSU 3-1-2--6 14-7-4--25 4-8 0-0 Scoring Per Time Team Goal Scorer (Assists) 1 7:33 MSU Kevin O'Keefe 12 (Sean Berens, Jeff Kozakowski) 1 7:55 MSU Chris Bogas 4 (Brad Hodgins, Mike York) 1 12:02 MSU Bryan Adams 8 (Chad Alban) 1 16:34 FSU Brett Colborne 7 (Brian McCullough, Geoff Bennetts) 2 19:09 MSU Kevin O'Keefe 13 (Mike Weaver, Damon Whitten) 3 11:46 FSU Brian McCullough 14 (Geoff Bennetts, Jim Dube) 3 18:53 MSU Sean Berens 31 (unassisted) SH/EN 3 19:06 FSU Jon Rogger 1 (Scott Lewis, Mike Olaski) 3 19:47 MSU Chad Alban (unassisted) EN Goaltender Saves by Period Time Chad Alban, MS 10-4-9--23 60:00 Vince Owen, FS 11-6-x--17 40:00 Jeff Blashill, FS x-x-2--2 18:26