March 24, 2007
Grand Rapids, Mich. - Tim Crowder scored twice, two other players had multiple-point games, and Jeff Lerg made 27 saves to lead Michigan State to a 5-1 victory over Boston University in the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional in Grand Rapids on Friday. The Spartans, the No. 3 seed in the region, will face top-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m.
Boston University took the early lead, getting on the board just 6:05 into the contest. Just over a minute after Jason Lawrence's offering rang off the post, winger Ryan Weston eluded a pair of Spartan defenders to break in alone in the low slot. Moving right-to-left, Weston flipped the puck over the blocker hand of Jeff Lerg for the first goal of the game.
The Spartans got the goal back at 12:51 while skating four-on-three. Tim Kennedy collected the puck in the low slot and put a soft backhander on goaltender John Curry, which the senior stopped. Kennedy collected his own rebound and flipped another backhand attempt past the glove-hand of Curry for his 16th goal of the season. The Terriers had held an early 10-3 shot differential, but the Spartans broke through in the second half of the frame with good looks at Curry, and finished the period trailing in shots 11-9, but with the score tied, 1-1.
Michigan State jumped out to their first lead of the contest 1:11 into the middle frame. Curry made a save on a Tyler Howells slapshot from the right point, and the rebound caromed out to the right of the netminder almost to the wall. Kennedy corralled the puck as Curry protected the near post, and Kennedy quickly threw a pass in front to a crashing Tim Crowder, who slammed it home.
Michigan State began to build momentum by carrying play for long stretches deep in the BU zone, which put another goal on the board at 5:22. Nick Sucharski won the faceoff in the right circle back to Ethan Graham at the point; the senior blueliner put a slapshot on net. Curry made the save on the slapshot, but winger Jay Sprague was on the doorstep to poke home the rebound through the netminder's five-hole for the two-goal advantage.
Tom Morrow was whistled for a major for checking from behind at 13:42 of the period, but consecutive calls against the Spartans kept the visiting team from having any extended power-play time. Justin Abdelkader had a chance to extend the lead to 4-1 with three minutes remaining in the period, on a breakaway as he was sprung from the penalty box; Curry, however, stuffed the sophomore with a pad save on the goalline.
The Terriers looked to climb back into the game late in the period, as Jim McKenzie was whistled for obstruction hooking at 17:07 to even it up at four skaters each. Michigan State pressed deep in the zone, however - Bryan Lerg collected the puck behind the net and circled out to the left of Curry, and threw it into the bottom of the circle for Dan Vukovic, who wristed the puck past Curry for his eighth of the season and third goal in two games.
Crowder added his second of the night at the 8:04 mark of the final period to give Michigan State the four-goal lead. Jeff Dunne held the puck in the defensive zone as a BU power play expired, and threaded a home-run pass to the winger through a pair of Terrier defensemen in the neutral zone. Crowder broke in alone and beat Curry glove-side to all but put the game out of reach for BU.
NOTES: This is the 25th all-time NCAA Tournament bid for Michigan State, the fifth-most all-time. The Spartans own a 25-28-1 record in their all-time appearances, and are 12-13 in their opening game. MSU will appear in its second straight regional final ... This was the 15th meeting all-time between the schools in NCAA Tournament play, and broke a 7-7-0 series deadlock ... Michigan State and BU had also played each other six times previously in NCAA Tournament action, and each had entered tonight's game with three wins in those meetings ... MSU is 34-18-4 against non-conference opponents since the 2000-01 season and is 22-16-3 in the five-year tenure of Rick Comley ... The game, scheduled for an 8:30 drop of the puck, did not start until 10:05 thanks to a double-overtime tilt between Notre Dame and Alabama-Huntsville prior ... Michigan State played its fourth all-time NCAA game at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids and is now 2-2-0 in the building ... MSU is now 4-1-1 in neutral-site games this season, and tonight played its 11th game against an opponent ranked in the top ten this year. MSU is now 4-6-1 in those contests, with nine of the 11 played away from Munn Ice Arena ... MSU is now 21-2-2 when scoring three or more goals, and is 17-1-0 when scoring four or more ... Michigan State extinguished all six BU power-play chances on the evening, and have killed off 32 of the last 35 chances against ... Comley went back to his top three lines from the opening night of the season, skating the sophomores (Justin Abdelkader centering Tim Crowder and Tim Kennedy) and juniors (Chris Mueller centering Bryan Lerg and Jim McKenzie), along with the S-line of Matt Schepke, Nick Sucharski, and Jay Sprague. He also continued his recent trend of skating just two forwards on the fourth line, and seven defensemen ... Tim Kennedy recorded a point in his fourth straight game with his first-period goal, his 20th career tally in a Spartan uniform. He leads the team with eight power play goals this season ... Kennedy recorded his team-best 10th multiple-point game this season with his assist on Tim Crowder's goal early in the middle frame. It was the second two-goal contest in three NCAA Tournament games for Crowder, who also has three goals and two assists in his last four games overall ... Tyler Howells has points in his last four games as well (1-7-8) ... The game was officiated by the WCHA crew of Jon Campion, CJ Beaurline, and Dan Carey ...