CCHA Finals Notebook
CHN Staff Report
DETROIT Michigan State defeated top-seeded Miami, 2-1, in the 25th anniversary CCHA Championship game at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday. In the process, MSU claimed its CCHA-record 11th Tournament title and earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Senior forward David Booth tallied the game winner for MSU in the second period. Freshman netminder Jeff Lerg allowed just one goal on 23 shots, earning him tournament MVP honors.
A penalty called on senior forward Matt Davis proved costly for Miami, when freshman center Justin Abdelkader gave Michigan State the 1-0 lead in the first period. Freshman left winger Tim Kennedy dumped the puck into the offensive zone. The puck trickled along the boards, where freshman forward Tim Crowder picked it up. Crowder was tripped up, but managed to send a sprawling pass to Abdelkader, who beat freshman goaltender Jeff Zatkoff to tally the power-play goal at 14:13.
Miami scored a goal of its own just 20 seconds later to even the score 1-1. Freshman defenseman Alec Martinez ripped a shot from just inside the blue line that Jeff Lerg deflected but could not hold onto. Sophomore left winger Ryan Jones scooped up the rebound and slipped it through Lerg's legs for his 22nd goal of the season.
The Spartans scored at 5:52 of the second period to give them the 2-1 lead. Sophomore forward Jim McKenzie skated in along the right side and let a shot fly that hit Zatkoff in the shoulder. The rebound hit the stick of David Booth, who wasted no time putting the puck behind the RedHawk goalie. Junior forward Drew Miller assisted on the play as well.
The third period turned into a defensive stalemate, with neither team able to put the puck past Zatkoff or Lerg. Miami generated six shots, while Michigan State registered 10 of its own in the final frame.
Miami pulled Zatkoff with 36 seconds left in the game in an attempt to even the score, but its effort fell short. Michigan State was crowned the CCHA tournament champion by a final score of 2-1.
Michigan State coach Rick Comley — "We worked hard all year to get better as a team and it kind of cumulated tonight."
"With the NCAA tournament next week, we are a happy group."
"I thought we played excellent. I thought Miami was excellent, it was a great game."
Jeff Lerg, MSU goalie (Most Valuable Player) — "This is unreal, I've never been apart of a championship team like this. It's unbelievable."
"Twenty-fifth year, we started it and now we got it on the 25th anniversary. It's real nice."
"We have to play like we are capable of, like we did this weekend. We have to play do or die like we did this weekend and just take it one step at a time."
Miami coach Enrico Blasi — "We worked hard all year and have nothing to hang our head about. We played hard tonight. They executed when they had to and made the plays."
FORWARD: Drew Miller (Michigan State)
FORWARD: Tim Crowder (Michigan State)
FORWARD: Ryan Jones (Miami)
DEFENSEMAN: Andy Greene (Miami)
DEFENSEMAN: Matt Hunwick (Michigan)
GOALIE: Jeff Lerg (Michigan State)
MVP: Jeff Lerg (Michigan State)
* Senior David Booth extended his point streak to five games with his goal in the second period. During the span, which dates back to the Spartans' final regular-season contest, he has a 3-4-7 line.
* Junior Drew Miller led all players in scoring during the 2006 CCHA tournament. Miller recorded four goals and four assists in five games. Teammate David Booth (3-4-7) finished second.
* Michigan State clinches its 11th CCHA tournament championship, its first since 2001.
* Rick Comley won his first CCHA tournament title behind the Spartan bench. He won a pair of titles as Northern Michigan's head coach.
* Michigan State clinches its fifth title when ranked No. 2 in the CCHA tournament. With the win against Miami, it improves to 19-3 as the second-seed team.
* The Spartans improve to 8-3-4 against ranked opponents this season. They defeated No. 11 Michigan and No. 2 Miami this weekend.
* Jeff Lerg became the first freshman to be named CCHA tournament MVP since former Michigan State freshman Ryan Miller earned the honor in 2000.
* Sophomore Ryan Jones became the first RedHawk to score a goal in the CCHA tournament final round. Miami was blanked 3-0 by Lake Superior in the 1993 final, its only other appearance in the championship game.
* Miami falls to 0-2 in the CCHA tournament championship game. The RedHawks also dip to 0-9 against the Spartans in CCHA tournament play.
* Miami finishes one win shy of the school record 27 wins set in 1992-93 and 1996-97. The 1992-93 squad was the only other RedHawk team to make it to the tournament final, meeting a similar fate.