EAST LANSING, Mich. — It took Michigan State all of 20 seconds to take a 1-0 lead over Bowling Green en route to a 5-1 win, but the Spartans were lucky that early goal didn’t cost them.
At least, that’s what coach Tom Anastos said.
“We expected a different game than certainly what we played last weekend [against Minnesota], and while we got off to a really fast start, I almost think that hurt our mentality a little bit because it came too easy at the beginning,” said Anastos. “I thought a lot of the game was kind of sloppy, and yet you’ve got to play in those games and try to learn how to win those games.”
In spite of the Spartans’ sloppy first period — and they were outshot by the Falcons 11-6 in the opening stanza — MSU led 2-0 before this game was six minutes old. Kevin Walrod’s one-timer from Matt Berry beat BGSU goaltender Andrew Hammond at 0:20, and Dean Chelios split the Falcons’ defense and walked around Hammond at 5:36.
“I thought Michigan State obviously jumped on us pretty good,” said BG coach Chris Bergeron. “I didn’t think it was a barrage of shots early, but I thought that they took advantage of a couple of good chances they had early.
“All in all, especially through the first two periods, I thought it was a fairly somewhat even game, even though the scoreboard didn’t say that. It was those four or five plays that we find ourselves on the negative side of those plays too much. There were a couple of plays around their net — and, obviously, we don’t get many — that not taking advantage of those really hurts.”
The Falcons’ only goal of the game was scored at 17:44 in the first by Ted Pletsch, a rocket from the top of the left circle that beat a screened Drew Palmisano low on the near side.
The Spartans scored two more in the second to make it 4-1, Brett Perlini’s pretty pickup of his own rebound at 2:10, short-handed, and Matt Berry’s goal at 17:42, a tip-in of Tim Buttery’s shot from the right point. Brent Darnell capped the scoring at 18:50 in the third.
“I thought in the second and third period, we definitely played better,” said Anastos. “I thought in the first period we got away from the little things that we need to do if we want to be a decent team.
“Sometimes you learn lessons and it costs you. In this case tonight, fortunately, I think we recognized some little details that we got away from doing — particularly in that first period — that didn’t cost us and hopefully we can still learn from.”
The win puts Michigan State (9-5-1, 5-4-0 CCHA) above .500 in league play for the first time since their opening weekend split with Alaska at the start of the 2010-11 season. For Bowling Green (6-9-2, 1-9-1 CCHA), the loss leaves them looking for their second conference win of the current season.
“I think there are some nights when we’ve been better than others defending lines, but tonight was not one of them,” said Bergeron. “It’s not our lack of working on it, or teaching it, or trying to coach it, but obviously we’re not doing something right. The message isn’t getting across. The execution level is nowhere near good enough for Division I hockey, and obviously that has to change.”
The teams meet again Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. in Munn Ice Arena.