Spartans Have Luck Of Irish In Dumping UM

St. Patrick's Day arrived just in time for the green and white, who rode a goal from Irishman Zak McClellan to a 4-1 victory over the Michigan Wolverines. The Spartans will now face Miami tommorrow evening for the CCHA Championship.

OKEMOS,MI-Michigan State was hoping to get a little luck of the Irish on St Patrick's Day, and that happened as the Frankenmuth native and Irishman Zak McClellan scored the game winning goal in a 4-1 victory over the Michigan Wolverines at the Joe.

The Spartans got behind in the first period when UM's Andrew Ebbett put the Wolverines in front 1-0 when the puck slide across to the slot and Ebbett put it behind the outstretched glove of Spartan goalie Jeff Lerg.

MSU then countered in the first period when the Spartans scored a power play goal with good puck movement, which ended with Tim Crowder flipping the puck in the net for a 1-1 tie.

Later on, MSU got what would be the game winning goal when Zak McClelland scored to give MSU a 2-1 lead. McClelland, who is the two time winner of the "Goofest Award" as the Spartans funny man, muscled in a shot from the left slot that the Wolverines probably didn't think was too amusing.

The first intermission found the Spartans ahead at this point by the score of 2-1.

The second period again was dominated by MSU as the Spartans put the pressure on. The Spartans nearly scored a third goal that trickled over the pad of UM goalie Noah Ruden that was knocked away from crossing the goal line by UM's Mark Mitera.

Drew Miller later found Jim McKenzie streaking toward the net but his shot was stopped on a nice save by Ruden.

Then MSU's Colton Fretter walked in on goal, but Ruden stopped him point blank, and Chris Mueller's rebound was also stopped, keeping the game at 2-1 with the green and white still ahead.

UM put some pressure on MSU late in the period, but MSU was up to the task and still holding a 2-1 lead at the second intermisson.

The third period began when Jeff Lerg made a great save on UM's Kevin Porter, who raced in the Spartan zone. Lerg stepped out, cut down the angle, challenged Porter, and made a great save.

A few moments later, the Spartans Tyler Howells fed a wide open David Booth in front of the net, but he could not connect on the one-timer.

UM's Tyler Swystun later broke across the blue line and rifled a slap shot that Lerg once again was able to handle.

The Spartans Chris Mueller then was stopped on a breakaway that once again kept the score at 2-1 in favor of MSU.

Shortly after, MSU's Nick Sucharski screamed a shot that just went past Ruden and over the UM crossbar.

Finally, despite missed opportunities and good goaltending on both ends, Bryan Lerg scored with just 2:16 left in third period to give MSU a 3-1 cushion.

UM at this point momentarily pull their goalie Ruden, but facing play in their end shortly after, put him back in net.

With a face-off in the UM zone, Michigan's players jumped toward the MSU zone, but the puck was never cleared as MSU's Tim Crowder stepped in front of the puck, deked a defenseman, and wristed the puck over Ruden's left shoulder for a 4-1 lead in th last half minute of the game for the final margin.

Jeff Lerg was once again brillant in goal for the Spartans, stopping 25 of 26 shots, most of which were not easy.

Rick Comley's crew must now get ready for Miami, which beat Northern Michigan earlier in the evening by the score of 5-2.

Northern led at the end of one period by the score of 2-0, but Miami had five unanswered goals, scoring three in the second period, and two in the third period.

CCHA Championship game time is set for 6:30pm tommorrow and will be televised by Fox Sports Detroit.

Stay tuned to GSN for more exciting Spartan hockey.

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