Oct. 13, 2006
East Lansing, Mich. - The all-sophomore line of Tim Crowder, Tim Kennedy, and Justin Abdelkader accounted for three goals and three assists as Michigan State opened the 2006-07 hockey season with a victory over CCHA foe Western Michigan, 4-1, at Munn Ice Arena on Friday night. The Spartans open the year with a victory for the second straight season and get an early two points in the conference standings. Crowder scored a pair of goals, Abdelkader registered a goal and an assist, and Kennedy was credited with two assists.
The Spartans wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, potting the first goal of the season just 1:44 into the opening frame. Abdelkader took a feed from classmate Kennedy and streaked up the left side of the ice, and slapped the puck past a diving defender and the leg pad of goaltender Daniel Bellissimo stick-side. Bryan Lerg doubled the MSU lead at 10:19 on his goal from the high slot, with assists credited to freshman blueliner Mike Ratchuk - his first collegiate point.
The Broncos bit into the lead in the final minute of the opening frame. Mark Letestu one-timed a shot from the far-left hash to initiate the play, and Jeff Pierce deflected it to the right side of the crease for a crashing Brian Bicek, who snuck the puck past a sprawling Jeff Lerg to send the teams into the locker room with a 2-1 Spartan advantage.
The '09 line struck again at the 7:43 mark of the second period to re-establish a two-goal cushion for Michigan State. Kennedy initiated the play, carrying the puck in and looking at Abdekader, who stormed into the slot with a defender draped on his hip. Kennedy held the puck long enough to force Bellissimo to commit to his near post - at which point the winger calmly slid the puck to a crashing Crowder, who had an empty net into which to deposit his first goal of the season.
Crowder added a second at the 14:30 mark on a breakaway. He received the puck from Abdelkader and broke into the offensive zone, holding off a defender on his left hip. He went in on goal, faked backhand, and lifted a forehand floater top-shelf over the shoulder of Bellissimo. It was the third career two-goal game for the winger, and second consecutive - he had a pair of goals in the regional final loss to Maine in last year's NCAA Tournament.
Western Michigan had a chance to get back in the game midway through the third, when the Spartans took consecutive penalties and gave the Broncos 43 seconds of a five-on-three. The MSU defense stood tall, blocking eight shots and Jeff Lerg made four of his total 14 saves during that stretch to keep the visitors off the board.
Michigan State had a five-on-three minutes later, and Bellissimo stood tall, making an impressive save on a Kennedy offering to keep the Spartans off the board until the first penalty expired, then the Broncos were able to keep the hosts at bay for the rest of the man advantage.
Michigan State will attempt to complete the weekend sweep when they play the Broncos Sunday at 3:05 p.m. at Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich.
NOTES: The Spartan hockey program celebrated its alumni weekend with more than 100 former skaters in attendance for the 2006-07 opener. The entire group was honored in an intermission ceremony, with a special acknowledgement of the 40th and 20th anniversaries of the 1966 and 1986 NCAA Championship teams. Also in attendance was Calgary Flames owner (and 1951 MSU graduate) Harley Hotchkiss, who is a member of the 2006 induction class into the NHL Hall of Fame ... Crowder extended his consecutive-game point-scoring streak to seven games dating back to last season. Kennedy's is now active at four games ... MSU is now 38-25-3 all-time in season openers, including a 2-3 record under Rick Comley ... The win was the first for the Spartans over Western Michigan since January 15, 2005. MSU was winless (0-1-1) against the Broncos last season ... A player from each squad received a game disqualification during a second period scuffle. Michigan State's Bryan Lerg and Western Michigan's Jason Moul each earned fighting disqualifications in the second period of Friday's game and as a result will miss Sunday's rematch at Lawson Arena