ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Senior netminder and Michigan native Jimmy Spratts 29-save performance and timely scoring sparked Bowling Green to a 3-0 upset win over sixth-ranked Michigan Friday night at Yost Arena in Ann Arbor.
Bowling Green entered the contest at the bottom of the CCHA standings and had lost six straight conference games, four to league-leading Notre Dame and two to in-state rival Ohio State. The win for the Falcons was first at Yost Arena since 2002.
Michigan had a six game streak of their own, all wins. The loss was their first since a Thanksgiving College Hockey Showcase whitewash at the hands of Wisconsin. Four of the Wolverines eight losses this season have been shutouts.
Tommy Dees first period goal was the only offense in the game until the Falcons added a pair of third period markers from Dan Sexton and Nick Bailen to pull away with the win.
Obviously, its a real big win for us, said Bowling Green head coach Scott Paluch. I think it was a real solid game all the way out. I thought Jimmy (Spratt) was really good in goal. I thought our defensemen held up well. We were pretty solid. We did a good job of not turning a lot of pucks over and giving too many transition chances. I thought a lot of the transition that Michigan got was pretty much based on their speed. I thought for the most part, we kept the game manageable.
Its easier to talk after a good game and that was not a good game, obviously, from our standpoint, said Michigan Head Coach Red Berenson. It was a good game from Bowling Greens standpoint.
They got the first goal. They worked us from the first period and then, after that, we couldnt put our chances in. We didnt generate a lot, but we generated enough and they made their chances count.
Spratts night started out slowly with only four shots in the first period, but Michigan upped the ante with 25 more over the last two periods.
I felt especially good, said Spratt. Last week (against Ohio State) didnt go as good as I wanted it to, but it feels good to come back with your best effort after a bad game.
It was tough, he said of his light workload in the opening period. I had only had a few shots in the first period. Its tough to stay in the game, but I just kept trying to talk to myself, to keep myself in it. As the game went on, I got some more shots and felt good.
Complimenting the team defense in front of him, Spratt said, They were great tonight. They blocked a lot of shots; let me see the puck. Thats all you can ask from them.
Jimmy was very good, Paluch agreed. There werent a lot of saves, but there were four or five really good saves that you have to have.
The first period looked like anything but a sixth ranked team nationally playing a home contest against the CCHAs 12th place team.
Neither team could muster a shot on goal until Wolverine Matt Rust ripped a shot from the left circle that Spratt stopped at 7:18.
Exactly two minutes later, Bowling Green made better use of their first shot on goal of the game. Tommy Dee solved Michigan goaltender Bryan Hogan from the slot putting the Falcons up 1-0, a lead that would stand after the first 20 minutes.
The Falcons Dan Sexton missed a golden opportunity on the penalty kill late in the period. The sophomore right wing poked check the puck from Michigan forward Aaron Palushaj and skated in all alone from the blue line only to be foiled by Hogan.
Spratt and Hogan prevailed in the second stanza, both holding off the opposition despite several power play chances for each side.
Bowling Green used a five minute major power play to widen the gap to two goals early in the third period
Michigan defenseman Scooter Vaughan took a checking from behind major and the accompanying game misconduct for flattening Falcon Brandon Svendsen.
At the end of that man advantage, interrupted by a two-minute minor penalty of their own, the Falcons clicked when Sexton pulled a loose puck out from behind the net and stuffed a shot between Hogans pads at 8:54.
We took the penalty to go four-on-four, but getting the late goal (during the major) there was a big lift, said Paluch. That was a separation goal that I thought was a big swing play in the game.
Bailen iced the game for Bowling Green when he weaved in the slot from the left point and buried an insurance goal at 14:11.
Bowling Green (8-12-3, 5-9-1 CCHA) hosts Michigan (15-8-0, 9-6-0 CCHA) in the tail end of the weekend home-and-home series late afternoon on Saturday.
Tomorrows game is really important, said Paluch. This shows that we can go into a building, one of the toughest buildings in the country, and have some success that you can clearly use as a jump start.