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9.4.07

A Pause for Sports

Michigan State hockey sweaterAs you may remember, I grew up in the Great State of Michigan and received my undergraduate degree in piano at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Well, the basketball season may have ended shy of a National Championship for Michigan State fans, but more importantly the Spartan hockey team won the NCAA national championship game over the weekend. Pat Borzi covered the story for the New York Times (Late Scoring Spree Hands Spartans Championship, April 7):

Justin Abdelkader’s dance after his game-deciding goal for Michigan State might have been niftier than the score itself. After burying a Tim Kennedy feed with 18.9 seconds to play, Abdelkader jumped, spun and skipped away in celebration while his teammates on the bench mobbed one another and Coach Rick Comley. Chris Mueller added an empty-net goal with 1.7 seconds left to finish off Michigan State’s 3-1 victory against Boston College for the N.C.A.A. men’s championship. The Eagles, who saw their 13-game winning streak end, lost the Frozen Four title game for the second year in a row. Abdelkader’s goal was the latest game winner in regulation time in an N.C.A.A. final.

In a physical game, the Spartans prevailed by scoring three goals in the final 10 minutes 7 seconds. Abdelkader won the tournament’s most outstanding player award, but the diminutive goalie Jeff Lerg proved at least as valuable. The 5-foot-6 Lerg, who has asthma and uses a breathing machine before games, made 29 saves. With Boston College leading, 1-0, five minutes into the third, his spectacular, belly-flopping glove stop on Brian Boyle foiled a short-handed two-on-one and energized the Spartans, who tied the score about five minutes later. “It’s kind of what I’ve been waiting my whole life to do, proving everyone wrong on a national level,” said Lerg, a sophomore. “I’ve been too small at so many levels. Some coaches didn’t want to talk to me. Coach Comley gave me a great opportunity.”
What is it about hockey that attracts players with strange, consonant-heavy names? Abdelkader? Lerg? You can watch the highlight reel at YouTube -- of course -- with Lerg's save at about 0:34 and Abdelkader's victory dance at about 3:35.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled cultural programming.

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