Spartans earn third national championship

ST. LOUIS – Sophomore forward Justin Abdelkader scored with 18.9 seconds remaining in regulation to lift Michigan State to the 2007 National Championship with a 3-1 win over Boston College on Saturday night at Scottrade Center.

Just moments after Abdelkader had hit the right post, sophomore Tim Kennedy pushed a puck to the front of the net and Abdelkader converted to give Michigan State its third NCAA title (1966, 1986 and 2007). Senior Tyler Howells also assisted on the goal.

For the first time since the 2001 NCAA title game, the championship game was scoreless through the first period with Boston College generating a 13-6 shots on goal advantage.

Boston College senior Brian Boyle picked up his 19th goal of the season to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead at 6:50 of the second period. The puck bounced free from a scrum along the left wing boards and sophomore Brock Bradford wristed a shot from the left circle that deflected off Boyle to the top right corner for a power-play goal.

The Spartans got consecutive power-play chances midway though the second frame and had good opportunities to knot the game. BC junior netminder Cory Schneider came up with bigs saves in close on Michigan State’s Bryan Lerg and Tim Crowder. Another good chance was snuffed out when senior defenseman Mike Brennan blocked sophomore Tim Kennedy’s shot from the slot.

With just under five minute to play in the second period, Schneider came up big again. Just after an Eagle penalty had expired, junior forward Chris Mueller was set up at the left side of the crease, but Schneider made the stop with the left pad.

The Spartans outshot the Eagles, 12-6, in the second period.

Just over a minute into the third period, Kennedy had another great chance for Michigan State when his shot went through the crease and wide behind Schneider.

Boston College had a great chance to extend the lead with a two-on-one shorthanded rush 4:40 into the third period, but Michigan State sophomore netminder Jeff Lerg made a tremendous glove save on Boston College senior Brian Boyle.

The Spartans would tie the game with 10:07 remaining in the third period when Kennedy grabbed a loose puck after a neutral ice face-off, walked in alone, and buried a power-play goal. It was Kennedy’s 18th goal of the season. Sophomore Justin Abdelkader picked up an assist on the goal.

Mueller closed the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:58 of the third.

Lerg finished the game with 29 saves for the Spartans. Schneider made 26 saves for Boston College.

The All-Tournament Team was made up of Nathan Gerbe (F-BC); Kennedy (F-MSU); Abdelkader (F-MSU); Boyle (D-BC); Howells (D-MSU); and Lerg (G-MSU). Abdelkader was named the Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player.

The attendance for this year’s title game set a new attendance record for the Frozen Four with 19,432 fans packing the Scottrade Center.