Michigan State moved one step closer to a better position in the CCHA standings with a 1-0 win in Ann Arbor against the nation's top team Friday night .
The Spartans won at Yost Arena for the first time in nearly four years, bringing Michigan State (28 points) to within two points of second-place Michigan (30) and within four of conference leader Miami (32).
The story of the game was the Lerg family. Junior goalie Jeff Lerg recorded his second consecutive shutout, stopping all 26 Wolverine shots. He has not allowed a goal in eight periods dating back to last Friday's game against Ohio State.
Jeff's cousin, senior captain Bryan Lerg, scored the lone Spartan goal on a first period power play. After a Nick Sucharski shot went wide and careened back in front of Wolverine net minder Billy Sauer, the Lerg who plays forward lit the lamp, giving the Spartans an early lead they would never relinquish.
Bryan also stood out on the penalty kill, along with fellow forward Chris Mueller, killing off a pair of third period penalties to help preserve the Spartan win. Michigan State has now killed 30 consecutive power plays.
The Spartans took control of the game in the second period by out-physicaling the Wolverines while shutting down NCAA scoring leader Kevin Porter, holding him to only a pair of shots.
Porter's lone chance was on an odd man rush late in the second period; however, the Hobey Baker candidate was tripped up by Spartan freshman defenseman Jeff Petry, earning Petry a minor penalty that would carry over into the third period.
The remainder of the third was a back-and-forth battle with both teams getting their chances. The Spartans were up to the task, and when they dumped the puck into Michigan territory with under 20 seconds to play, a victory was certain for the Green and White.
After losses to first-place North Dakota and Miami earlier in the season, the win gives Michigan State a much-needed boost in confidence having beaten an elite Michigan team in the notoriously hostile environment of Yost.
Michigan State will attempt to move into a tie for second place with the Wolverines by handing them their third loss of the season tonight in East Lansing at a sure-to-be-buzzing Munn Arena.
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