Monday, June 17, 2024

'I know it’s been 15 years but it doesn't feel that long': MSU's 2007 championship team returns Friday to Munn

October 13, 2022
<p>MSU defenseman Jeff Dunne hoists the NCAA Championshp Trophy following Michigan State&#x27;s 3-1 victory over Boston College. Photo courtesy of MSU Athletics. </p>

MSU defenseman Jeff Dunne hoists the NCAA Championshp Trophy following Michigan State's 3-1 victory over Boston College. Photo courtesy of MSU Athletics.

Flashback to the 2007 championship game. After a devastating loss to Maine the season prior, the underdog green and white returned to the Frozen Four with a championship hunger. 

It was all tied up 1-1 with less than a minute to go in the game. Boston College traveled down the ice and MSU forward Tim Kennedy forced a turnover. Kennedy sent the puck to sophomore forward Justin Abdelkader, who hit the crossbar. Kennedy picked it back up behind the net and delivered it to Abdelkader, who navigated through two BC skaters and whipped it in the back of the net, stealing the lead.

With just under 19 seconds left on the clock, MSU was determined to add another one to the board. 

Kennedy set up junior forward Chris Mueller who scored on an empty net goal with a second remaining, adding the third and most recent championship title for MSU hockey.

“We had a us against the world mentality," starting goaltender Jeff Lerg said. “We played our best game of the year as a team, and we played at the most important time.”

MSU's powerhouse roster consisted of a stellar crew including Tim Kennedy, Chris Lawrence, Justin Abdelkader, Bryan Lerg and 25 others. The mini but mighty 5-foot-6 goaltender Jeff Lerg started in all 42 games that season. The Spartans were led by Head Coach Rick Comley and assistant coaches Tom Newton and Brian Renfrew.

The 2007 championship squad will return to their roots on Friday where they will be honored at MSU’s game versus UMass Lowell. 

“I can remember back to that year we honored the 20-year team from 1986,” Kennedy said. “I couldn’t believe it on the bench watching those guys. I know it’s been 15 years, but it doesn't feel that long. It makes you think back fondly on those times and the special group we had.”

The last time the Spartans reunited in East Lansing was to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the championship. MSU hockey alumni are looking forward to cheering on the current team with their friends and family and reconnect with fellow teammates and coaching staff.

“My two daughters are six and five and my son's one, so I'll hopefully be able to hold him and take him on the bench,” Lawrence said. “It’s cool to live that through you kids and see everyone else and their families as well. Seeing everyone in that sense together is really special.”

Team members attribute their time on MSU’s team to molding them into the person and athlete they are today. 

“It was definitely the height of my hockey career,” Graham said. “I played for five years after with some pretty good players but the guys I played with at MSU shaped who we are for the rest of our lives. Especially that national title team to do it the way we did it, we weren’t expected to win going in and that makes you understand that you went through something together and surprised a lot of people. I carry it with me.”

A new foundation is in the process of being laid for MSU hockey. With the addition of Head Coach Adam Nightingale and the newly renovated arena, 2007 title team alumni have nothing but high hopes for the future of the program.

“I think the commitment from the athletic department to the director all the way down through Adam and his vision is there and that’s why I truly believe it’s limitless,” Lawrence said. “It’s a gold mine that's just waiting to explode. Right time, right person with the facilities combined with him and his knowledge of the game and who he is as a person, all those things combined are going to reap a lot of benefits.”

It's uncertain where the program will be 15 years from now, but maybe MSU will be celebrating another championship milestone. 

“I think this program’s going back in the right direction. I'm very confident with that,” Kennedy said. “You can have great players, but you need a great culture and great players have to be good people. When we won, we had good players, but we also had a lot of good people and I think Adam’s gonna bring that to the school. I'm very excited for where Spartan hockey’s headed.”

Support student media! Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.

Discussion

Share and discuss “'I know it’s been 15 years but it doesn't feel that long': MSU's 2007 championship team returns Friday to Munn” on social media.