BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Michigan State took advantage of a Bowling Green team playing without its top goaltender to earn a 6-4 win and snap a three-game CCHA losing streak at the Bowling Green Ice Arena Saturday.
Junior Bob Frazee started his first game of the season when it was learned that BG’s first team All-CCHA goaltender, Jordan Sigalet, couldn’t go with flu-like symptoms, following a 46-save performance the night before. Matt Migliaccio got the start on the other side for the Spartans.
“We don’t want to say we got a boost of confidence, but we knew we could shoot more shots,” MSU forward David Booth said. “Sigalet is a great goalie and obviously did a great job on Friday night; the key tonight was to shoot a lot again like last night and the puck went in.”
Spartan defenseman Tyler Howells got first-star honors on the night as he recorded a goal and two assists. His third-period power-play goal just 41 seconds in made it 5-3 and proved to be the game winner.
“He’s really grown into a player,” MSU coach Rick Comley said on the play of Howells. “Last year he was in and out of the lineup and this was a big game for our confidence in him. Bowling Green was a pretty good matchup for him and it was a big game for him.”
MSU (7-8-1; 4-6-0 CCHA) got three power-play goals on the night, including two in the latter part of the first period to grab a two-goal cushion that the Falcons (8-4-2; 5-3-2 CCHA) couldn’t recover from.
It didn’t take long for the Spartans to get to the new BG goaltender, Adam Nightingale scored on a shot from the left circle that bounced in off Frazee’s left blocker to give MSU an early 1-0 lead. Howells picked up an assist on the play as Nightingale got his first goal of this season off a rush.
Falcon forward Rich Meloche tied the game up at 1-1 though at the 11:20 mark of the period on a 5-on-3 power-play to swing the momentum. A cross-ice pass from forward Brett Pilkington from the right circle found Meloche alone on the left, and he roofed a wrist shot past Migliaccio into the upper right corner.
Alex Foster also picked up an assist on the play as BG took advantage of a long power play that saw two 5-on-3 opportunities.
MSU grabbed the lead right back on the power-play just 1:49 later. Drew Miller netted his fifth goal of the season on a shot from the left circle on another Spartan rush that lead to a goal. Chris Snavely and Ethan Graham picked up assists on the play at 13:09.
Booth added another power-play goal to make it 3-1 just 2:10 later, to give the Spartans a two-goal cushion. Booth’s slapshot from the right circle found the net on a pass from Jim Slater and Howells, who picked up his second assist.
The Falcons changed goaltenders to the start the second period, as Jon Horrell entered his second game of the season. Frazee gave up three goals on 11 shots.
With 5:13 left in the second period, MSU would take a commanding three-goal lead thanks to Kevin Estrada. Estrada stuck in a rebound on a shot by Jeff Dunne between the circles for his third goal of the year. Ash Goldie picked up the other assist.
Derek Whitmore got the Falcons back in the game on two goals in the final five minutes of the period. The first goal came on a rebound at 15:59 from a shot by Pilkington and the second goal off another rebound with 55 seconds left from a shot by Foster. Pilkington and Foster traded assists on the two goals to bring the game to 4-3 entering the final period.
A penalty at the end of the second by BG defenseman Taylor Christie gave the Spartans a power play to start the third.
Howells scored his game-winner at :41 as his shot found the net from the top of the left circle. Chris Mueller and Colton Fretter picked up the assists as Howells (1-8-9) recorded his first goal of the season.
“It feels good, been working on that power play of ours,” Howells said. “We’ve been together now a few weeks, we’ve been moving the puck well, getting some chances and the puck is going in for us.”
MSU’s final goal came with 12:30 left in the game from Snavely. His shot from between the circles found the net on the left to make it 6-3.
The Falcons had one last attempt at a comeback on the power play. Michael Hodgson found the net from the left circle on a pass from Jonathan Sigalet and Pilkington to make it 6-4. But Migliaccio made key saves down the stretch for 20 on the night.
“(Migliaccio) played very well in Minnesota when we put him in and he played very well tonight,” Comley said. “Two of the goals he gave up, we couldn’t find and clear, so it wasn’t his fault that he gave those up.”
Horrell ended the game for BG with 24 saves on 27 shots.
MSU finished 3-of-8 on the power-play, while BG went 2-of-9.
“I’m proud of the way our guys hung in there, but you’ve got to give credit to Michigan State,” BG coach Scott Paluch said. “They made a lot of nice plays tonight and scored goals. We had other chances on the power play besides our two goals, we moved the puck extremely well, but just couldn’t get it by the goalie.”
BG will play at Michigan on Friday as part of a home-and-home series with the Wolverines before heading to the Dartmouth tournament to finish the first half of the season..
MSU will play at Notre Dame on Friday also as part of a home-and-home series with the Irish before playing in the Great Lakes Invitational (Dec. 29-30).