BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — An evenly played hockey game came out in favor of the Bowling Green Falcons on Saturday night, as they downed the Michigan State Spartans 4-2 in front of 2,323 fans at the BG Ice Arena.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for Bowling Green. With the loss, the Spartans are now winless in nine of their last ten games.
The Falcons used a balanced scoring attack to gain the victory. Eleven different players combined to put points in the scoring column for BG.
“A lot of the guys chipped in, and more importantly, a lot of the guys played extremely well,” said BG head coach Scott Paluch. “We rolled four (lines) all the way through to the last three minutes of the game, and that was real big for us. We were never in a situation where we had to shorten the bench.”
The Falcons put together one of their best efforts of the season, playing a complete game from beginning to end.
“From the first minute all the way through to the 60th minute, I thought we were solid. Everybody was contributing,” said Paluch. “It was an evenly contested game. I think both teams competed hard for loose pucks and fought hard for space. I think the only difference was we were able to score some goals, especially early, which gave a lift to our team. We got important goals when we needed them.”
Jimmy Spratt, freshman goaltender for Bowling Green, put together a solid performance against the team from East Lansing, Michigan. He stopped 22 of 24 shots on goal to earn his third win of the year.
Despite the evenly played contest, two key components of the MSU squad–forward Drew Miller and defensemen Jared Nightingale–were inactive for the game because of injury and illness, hurting the Spartans.
“They’re both big losses,” said MSU head coach Rick Comley of his two missing players. “They’re both good players. It was just not a good enough lineup tonight, and too many pucks went in too easy.”
Bowling Green jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the 4:06 mark of the opening period. BG’s Brian Bales won the draw on a face off deep in MSU territory. He slid the puck to Ryan Barnett, who fired a shot on MSU goaltender Dominic Vicari. The rebound came out to junior winger Rich Meloche between the circles. He found Vicari’s five-hole for his second goal of the season.
The Spartans tied the game just over one minute later on a power play goal. After a Michael Hodgson hooking call, defensemen Tyler Howells blasted a shot from the point just six seconds into the power play, lighting the lamp for his sixth goal of the year. Colton Fretter and Brian Lerg assisted on the goal.
James Unger scored the next goal for the Falcons, the goal coming on a power play. Unger picked up the puck at center ice, skated past two defenders, then crashed the net, the puck crossing the goal line just prior to the net coming off the moorings. After a brief review with the goal judge, the goal was allowed to stand. Alex Foster assisted on the play, which came at 6:20 of the second period.
Shortly thereafter, the Spartans seemed to tie the game on a goal that was a near carbon copy of the Unger goal. However, the goal was disallowed because the net had come off the moorings prior to the puck crossing the goal line.
Comley was unhappy with the referee’s decision to wave the goal off.
“There are two goals scored the same way,” explained Comley. “And if you’re not going to count one, don’t count the other.”
Lerg tied the game for the Spartans at 9:27 of the period on a power-play goal of his own. Skating through traffic, he found a wide open net, as Spratt had been taken out of the play by one of his own defenders. For Lerg, it was his sixth goal of the season, and Lerg was assisted by Howells and Fretter.
Brett Pilkington scored the game winner for the Falcons at 14:23. Vicari blocked a Derek Whitmore shot from in front of the net, but the rebound went high in the air. Pilkington swatted at the puck, and it found the net for his third tally of the year. Kevin Schmidt also assisted.
BG closed out the scoring at 7:22 of the third period. A giveaway at center ice led to a 2 on 1 for the Falcons’ John Mazzei and Brandon Svendsen. Mazzei faked a pass, then backhanded a shot past the glove of Vicari for his third goal of the year.
The Falcons finished the night 1 for 5 on the power play, while the Spartans lit the lamp twice in five attempts with the man advantage.
Vicari took the loss for the Spartans. He made 24 saves on the night, dropping to 5-5-2 on the year.
The Falcons will play host to a pair of east coast teams next weekend, as Clarkson and St. Lawrence invade the Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday. Michigan State will head to Fairbanks next weekend in their final CCHA action of 2005.