EAST LANSING, Mich. — Seniors Jay Sprague and Nick Sucharski scored for the Spartans and classmate Bobby Jarosz finished the night in net as Michigan State beat Bowling Green, 5-2, ensuring a finish no lower than third place in the final CCHA standings for MSU.
The Spartans went up 3-0 after the first and never slowed down. Falcon goaltenders Nick Eno and Andrew Hammond combined for 36 saves as Michigan State outshot Bowling Green 39-20 in the match.
“I thought in the first period that that’s as well as we’ve played in a long time,” said MSU head coach Rick Comley. “We had really good jump. Then Bowling Green settled down and I thought played better in the second.”
Bowling Green head coach Dennis Williams said that he was disappointed in the Falcons’ effort.
“I thought we didn’t come out with a lot of jump,” said Williams. “In the third period, our discipline wasn’t there.
“We came out hard in the second. When you spot a team like Michigan State with three goals, it’s pretty hard to come back — when you spot anybody in college hockey, especially a team like that.”
The Spartans goals came from Sprague, Zach Josepher and Brett Perlini in the first. Sprague capitalized on a Falcon turnover to score unassisted at 5:51, Josepher one-timed the puck in from the far side of the left circle and Perlini scored in the slot on the power play at 17:42. Perlini’s marker ended Eno’s night.
“We needed to shake something up,” said Williams. “I think Andrew played well in net for us as well. I didn’t want to keep him in there and them get four or five. I wanted to get him out and get a fresh start, get Andrew in there and give some life to our guys.”
The change seemed to help; the Falcons scored their first goal at 2:58 in the second and kept the shots more even in the stanza. Josh Boyd scored on a two-on-one breakaway and the single second-period Spartan goal came from Daultan Leveille at 9:25 with lots of traffic around the BG net.
Nick Sucharski’s shorthanded goal at 1:49 in the third made it 5-1 — a single break-in that beat Hammond five-hole — and Marc Rodriguez’ third goal of the season made it a 5-2 game at 9:56.
Shortly after Rodriguez’ goal, Jarosz came in for Palmisano to the delight of the crowd, which had chanted, “We want Bobby!” throughout much of the third period. Jarosz had more than just the fans advocating for him.
“Palmy [Palmisano] was after me from about the five-minute mark of the third period,” said Comley. “There was a delayed penalty or something, and he came over and said, ‘Are you going to put Bobby in at the ten-minute mark.’ I said, ‘Palmy, just play.’ He came back and did it again.”
For his last regular season home play as a Spartan, Jarosz stopped all five shots he faced in the final 10 minutes of the game. Palmisano finished with 13 saves on 15 shots.
The teams meet again Saturday in Bowling Green, and in there is more on the line than would appear to be obvious for both teams, said the coaches. The Spartans (19-11-5 overall, 14-8-2 in the CCHA) need wins to keep themselves in NCAA tournament contention, while the Falcons (5-23-2, 4-18-5 CCHA) want to end the regular season on a high note.
“We want to make sure we catapult ourselves and put some life right back into us, because we have no clue where we’re going [in the playoffs],” said Williams.
“Tomorrow night’s a big night with our senior night and hopefully everyone comes together — including our seniors, freshmen, sophomores and juniors — and put in a much better effort than tonight.”
The puck drops in the BGSU Ice Arena at 7:05 p.m.