The Green and White are national champions of NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey, a product of one of the more thrilling finishes to a final one would ever want to see – a 3-1 victory over a high-octane Boston College Golden Eagles squad last night in St. Louis.
It’s been 21 years since the last MSU ice hockey championship – 1986 against Harvard in the final – and this has to be among the more satisfying championships in any Spartan team sport. The program has struggled – comparatively speaking – since coach Ron Mason was kicked upstairs to the AD’s chair. Rick Comley – no slouch as a coach himself (he has a national championship as coach of
MSU became the second three-seed to play in a national final (
The Spartans fell behind in both games of the Frozen Four tournament, but as has been the case all year for a team that was largely an afterthought in the CCHA and in the NCAA tournament, they plugged along. Falling behind to the arguably more talented Golden Eagles in the final, MSU scratched back with a tying goal from Tim Kennedy at 9:53 of the third. But Kennedy was just warming up. With the clock winding down and overtime looming, Justin Abdelkader rang the puck off the post behind BC netminder Cory Schneider. Eventually the puck found its way behind the Eagles’ net, and Kennedy won his battle against a BC defender, spinning to steer the puck in front. Abdelkader wouldn’t be denied this time, snapping the puck past Schneider with 18.9 seconds left and setting off a Spartan celebration – how ironic that a
An empty net goal with two ticks left was the icing on the cake. A club that finished fourth in its own conference, one that was eliminated in the conference tournament semi-final, without a single all-conference player, one that was thought to have a gift in being named to the national tournament, one that if they won would do so with the worst record for a champion in more than 25 years, plugged along and won the prize.
It’s good to be a Spartan this morning…
photos: Tom Gannam/AP, Dale G. Young/Detroit News