Spartans advance 5-1 to NCAA Quarterfinals

Michigan State now advances to face Notre Dame (31-6-3) on Saturday night in the Midwest Regional final for a chance to go to St. Louis for the Frozen Four.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - Tim Crowder scored two goals, including the eventual game winner in front of the home-state fans as Michigan State handled Boston University 5-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Grand Rapids.

It was a tale of two halves in the first period, with the first ten minutes going to the Terriers (20-10-9), who opened the scoring on a goal by junior forward Ryan Weston at 6:05 of the first.

"They came out roaring at us, and I was wondering can we react to it, because at times this year we have reacted and at other times we didnt show up," said MSU coach Rick Comley. "They outshot us 9-0 to open the game but we gradually picked away at the tempo of the game."

Just when it looked like the Terriers were going to run the Spartans (23-13-3) out of Van Andel Arena, a hooking penalty by freshman defenseman Brian Strait at 12:42 proved costly.

MSU converted on the power-play within ten seconds of Straits penalty on a goal by sophomore forward Tim Kennedy.

The Spartans gained some momentum and never looked back.

"It became obvious we were going to have to play along the boards and we returned the physical play," said Comley. "First we scored, got the second goal, got the lead, got confident and then we got better as the game went on. We got to their goaltender well."

The Spartans handled the Terriers throughout the second period, scoring three goals and making the game unreachable.

Kennedy assisted on the second goal of the game, Crowders winner, which came at 1:11 into the second. Senior defenseman Tyler Howells had two assists in the game as well.

"Our great level of play and enthusiasm and the way we played in the first, we seemed to have lost an edge by the second period and sat back on our heels," said BU coach Jack Parker. "But give State credit, they came out on their heels but built up confidence and I thought their goaltender (Jeff Lerg) played very well tonight."

Sophomore goaltender Jeff Lerg made 27 saves to improve his record to 23-13-3 on the season. Hobey Baker hopeful and Hockey East Player of the Year, senior Brian Curry, made 21 saves for the Terriers in his final game of his great career.

Adding to an already tough second period, the Terriers lost senior defenseman Tom Morrow at 13:42 of the second period after Morrow received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind.

The call left Jack Parker's team down two goals and missing a key defenseman.

Junior defenseman Daniel Vukovic is warming up in postseason play, scoring his third goal in the last two games at the end of the second period. Vukovic scored two goals in MSU's 7-6 victory over Lake Superior State in the third-place game of the CCHA Tournament.

"It's amazing, he goes two years without scoring and now he has seven goals since Christmas," said Comley. "He put a great shot on goal and he has always had talent its just taken him this long to settle in, but he can make some good things happen out there."

Also adding some unexpected scoring punch is freshman forward Jay Sprague who scored only his third goal of the year, two of which have come in the postseason.

"We had a lot of guys contribute and chip in tonight and any win in the NCAA tournament is a major win," said Comley.

Despite a sluggish start to the game and getting outshot 27-25, the Spartans controlled the play for most of the game, which left Spartan fans pretty happy.

Michigan State now advances to face Notre Dame (31-6-3) on Saturday night in the Midwest Regional final for a chance to go to St. Louis for the Frozen Four.

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