Spartan Icers Seek First National Title In 21 Years

By: Associateed Press
By: Associateed Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Boston College took a 13-game winning streak into the Frozen Four final against Michigan State on Saturday. The Eagles also brought the learning experience from last year's title-game loss to Wisconsin.
"That's our Super Bowl. That's our World Series," coach Jerry York said. "Teams that are successful, they keep on going back because they've learned something.
"It's something you can't teach and you can't practice. You have to go through it."
Boston College (29-11-1) has been to the Frozen Four seven of the last 10 years, but with the only title in that stretch coming in 2001. Michigan State (25-13-3) is in the championship game for the first time in 20 years and last won it all in 1986.
So York feels fortunate rather than frustrated.
"There's an awful lot of very good teams that aren't here," York said. "We've gotten some bounces, and maybe there's just good karma that's helped us advance."
The game shapes up as a clash in styles, Boston College's go-go style vs. Michigan State's desire to control tempo.
"If we get outside our comfort zone we'll be in trouble," Michigan State coach Rick Comley said. "We're not as quick as they are and they score better than we do, but that doesn't mean they're better than us.
"If we defend well, we'll be all right, but we have to be ourselves."
That means a lot of contact is in the game plan.
"We've known all year that the more we hit, the better we play," said captain Chris Lawrence, a senior defenseman. "Coach always says that when we're hitting and blocking shots, he can tell that we're in the game."
Boston College was only five games above .500 before starting its run in mid-February with consecutive victories over Maine, which lost 4-2 to Michigan State in the semifinals. The Eagles are connecting at a phenomenal 35.6 percent rate on the power play during the winning streak, including 3-for-7 against North Dakota.
They prevailed in a shootout against North Dakota, piling up 49 shots.
"For a while we thought things would turn around on their own because we have a pretty skilled group of guys," senior defenseman Brian Boyle said. "When you look at our record now, we're up pretty high and things are going good."
Things weren't always so rosy. In midseason, York removed Rooney as captain and Boyle as assistant captain because both players' class attendance had become spotty.
Then he met with both players, and their parents.
"It wasn't a difficult decision for us because I thought if we don't do something now they're not going to graduate, I don't care how many goals and how many championships we win," York said. "We're not the St. Louis Rams and we're not the St. Louis Cardinals.
"We saw a marked improvement from Day 1 of the second semester."
Michigan State's Comley won a national title at Northern Michigan in 1991, and this is his first trip to the Frozen Four since then. The Spartans' star is 5-foot-6 goalie Jeff Lerg, who allowed two goals in the first 3:24 of the semifinals against Maine but then stopped the Black Bears the rest of the way.
Lerg benefited from a close call first, when the puck ended up on top of the net after he made a blocker save.
"If that goes in, I'm not sure if you're going to come back," Comley said. "Once he got that you could just see his confidence.
"A lot of years you give up two quick ones and you're looking to make a change, but it never enters my mind with him."
Boston College has 12 players who have been drafted by NHL teams, including Boyle (Kings) and goalie Cory Schneider (Canucks) in the first round and a pair of second-round picks in defenseman Carl Sneep (Penguins) and forward Dan Bertram (Blackhawks).
Michigan State has seven NHL draftees with a pair taken in the second round, center Justin Abdelkader (Red Wings) and defenseman Mike Ratchuk (Flyers).
"We don't really have any superstars," Lawrence said. "We have really good players, but we don't have one guy that teams can key on."


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