Michigan State Championship Preview
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
ST. LOUIS Having already chronicled the intertwined careers of 700-win coaches Jerry York and Rick Comley already, the two coaches in Saturday's championship game, it's worth noting another bit of intrigue:
Rick Comley was expected to follow Ron Mason again, first as Lake Superior coach when Mason went to Bowling Green, and then as Bowling Green coach when Mason went to Michigan State. But instead, the Bowling Green administration picked Jerry York. The rest is history.
But that has hardly stopped these two from respecting each other over the years.
"Sometimes the (wins) you really like best are the ones you get at schools like Lake Superior State, Clarkson and starting a program at Northern Michigan and overcoming great odds and being able to recruit. He went into Bowling Green and had to replace Ron (Mason) there, and I know first-hand what it's like replacing him, and won a national championship there. ... He's done it with class. That's one thing about Jerry York, he's a great family person, great individual person and he's always had dignity and class, but great intensity at the same time."
Once the game begins, the focus will be on the ice.
Already, some people are calling Thursday's BC win over North Dakota the "real" NCAA final game, implying that Michigan State has no shot over Boston College. But it would be folly to consider anything a sure thing this season — after all, wasn't Minnesota and/or Michigan, teams that Michigan State has lost to, supposed to be here and not the Spartans?
"(Boston College is) much more responsible defensively and have much better goaltending," Comley said. "Minnesota is dynamic and they're a good team with great talent. Someone asked, and one of the questions before was, what did I do that brought this team together and close and I think it's the agenda that either makes a college team or gets in the way. And if that agenda is individual, you know like first-round picks waiting for pro contracts as opposed to maximizing what they're doing where they're at."
Comley has thrived off that this season, perhaps his least talented team overall since taking over at Michigan State from Mason five years ago.
"I think that's what makes our team and I look at BC's team and I don't see a lot of kids in a hurry," Comley said. "Like if (Brian) Boyle was in a hurry to get out of there, he would never have agreed to go to defense and I think that speaks volumes for that team. Looking at the game (Thursday), I think North Dakota came out and was 'wow' for seven minutes and looked like they might blow BC out, but look at the final stats. BC just persevered."
Don't expect many changes in styles for this game, either.
"We can't try to play BC's game," Comley said. "What we have to do is go out and be who we are. Now what that does and how it impacts the game, we'll see, but if we try to get outside of what our comfort zone is, then you could be in a lot of trouble. We're not as quick as they are and I think they score better than we do, but I don't think that means they're better than we are overall as a team."
Michigan State fell behind 2-0 early against Maine, which forechecked like demons early. Playing against Boston College, the Eagles have the potential to send three lines out to do that for a whole game.
"If I could keep my fingers crossed about anything it'd be to get through the first five minutes," Comley said.
Added MSU forward Tim Kennedy, "When you look back at our season, when we were hitting and keeping control of the puck, we were winning games. When we weren't doing those things, we lost. Therefore, we have to keep hitting and keep good control of the puck because BC's transition game is phenomenal so we can't give them opportunities to rush back at us."