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College Hockey:
Kucera nets lone goal, Hammond stops 29 in Bowling Green’s shutout over Michigan State

— For the Falcons and the Spartans, all it took was one goal as Bowling Green registered a 1-0 road win over Michigan State, BGSU’s first win at Munn Ice Arena since Feb. 24, 2007.

Sophomore defenseman Connor Kucera had the only goal of the contest, just the second of his career.

“It’s a good win for us,” said Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron. “We haven’t won in this building since 2007. From a coach’s perspective, there’s always more. I thought we turned over way too many pucks. I thought Michigan State got better as the game went on and we got worse as the game went on. Ultimately, that’s not what we want.

“I don’t think we were bad; I just think there were too many soft times and too many times we got away from what we were doing in the first period. I’m happy with the win, but lots to do.”

In that first period, the Falcons outshot the Spartans 9-5 and were cycling the puck well, resulting in Kucera’s goal from Adam Berkle near the blue line at 16:16.

“It was kind of a broken play there,” said Kucera. “Berkle got the puck and kind of came to the point. I just moved across the middle and got a lane open and just took a one-time shot and got it on net.”

Bergeron said that the Falcons did a good job in the offensive zone in the first period.

“I thought we were getting pucks behind their defensemen,” Bergeron noted. “That’s what led to our goal and that led to a couple of chances. We were just making hard plays and I thought we got away from that.

“Whether that was Michigan State coming harder or was us taking our foot off the gas a little bit – I think it was a little bit of both.”

The Spartans pressured as the game wore on, outshooting the Falcons 24-16 in the second and third. MSU had a perfect opportunity to knot the game early in the third period when the Spartans had a two-man advantage for over a minute.

“The special teams battle, we didn’t win tonight,” said MSU coach Tom Anastos. “We had that five-on-three for a period of time. I thought we moved the puck around pretty good. We had a couple good looks, but we couldn’t get it by [BGSU goalie Andrew Hammond].”

Anastos said there was a little bit of anxiety going into the third period down 1-0.

“You can get frustrated and you try not to,” said Anastos. “You’re playing for that one goal. You know going into the third period, you’re playing for that next goal because if you get it, the energy all shifts to your team. They get it, you’ve really dug a hole and the energy is on their side.”

Hammond stopped 29 in the fifth shutout of his career. It was Hammond’s first game since the senior injured his elbow in the first minute of play against Colgate Oct. 19.

“I thought he played well,” said Bergeron. “He looked like he was on top of his condition. I thought he looked in control for the most part. That’s Andrew when he’s at his best.”

Freshman Jake Hildebrand stopped 24 in the loss. Anastos said that Hildebrand played well, but junior Will Yanakeff will start in net for MSU tomorrow night. It was the plan all week, said Anastos.

The Falcons (2-4-2, 1-1-1-1 CCHA) and Spartans (2-4-1, 1-2-0-0 CCHA) face off again at Munn at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

Andrew Hammond

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