EAST LANSING, Mich. — After beating Bowling Green 3-1 tonight to salvage a weekend split with the Falcons, Michigan State finished what it set out to do before practice even began last Monday morning.
The goal was to play a solid 120 minutes of hockey and that’s exactly what the Spartans did.
Junior captain Greg Wolfe had two goals in the win and freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand made 27 saves. Wolfe also had the only MSU goal in Friday night’s 2-1 loss, an unassisted shorthanded goal early in the contest.
The three goals in the series brought Wolfe’s total from four to seven on the season. Last year, he had 10 in 38 contests. Wolfe endured an 11-game point drought in the middle of this current season and the forward from Canton, Mich., and his coach, Tom Anastos said that Wolfe’s recent success – five goals and three assists in the last nine games – has been no accident.
“It’s nice to get a win and it was nice to see a weekend for Greg Wolfe in particular,” said Anastos. “He’s been working real hard. I think he’s put a lot of pressure on himself as both the team captain and an upperclassman on a team that’s struggling to create offense, to perform and produce more. It’s nice to see him have success last night and tonight. I thought he had a real good weekend.”
Wolfe put the Spartans on the board at 11:08 in the first, a one-timer from the left circle fed by Travis Walsh.
Tanner Sorensen had the game-winning goal at 6:37 in the second, a scrambled play in front of BGSU netminder Tommy Burke.
The Falcons drew within one eight minutes later when Bryce Williamson hit his ninth of the season, but the game remained 2-1 in favor of MSU until Wolfe found the empty net with 32 seconds left in regulation.
Wolfe said that his run of points is something that may give him confidence.
“Once you start getting the bounces, you think you’re going to score,” said Wolfe. “As a team, we’re playing a lot harder and it’s just made it a lot easier on everyone. That’s the most scoring chances we’ve generated in a while. It feels good to get those chances and it feels good to finally put them in.”
The Michigan State team captains called a meeting with the coaches Monday morning and then met with their teammates, all in an effort to keep the team unified as the Spartans struggle to climb out of the CCHA cellar with the season winding down.
“It was just about sticking together,” said assistant captain and senior forward Chris Forfar. “We know things are tough right now, but we’ve got to stick together as a team and not start pointing fingers.
“Obviously, it’s nice to have our captain play like that. He was struggling earlier in the season, but I don’t know that he was playing any worse than he is now. He was just having some trouble finding the back of the net.”
On the other side of the ice, the Falcons are, likewise, struggling to find some continuity of play. BGSU coach Chris Bergeron said that tonight’s game was further evidence that his team isn’t yet able to close out a weekend.
“We didn’t bring our game up a level coming on the road knowing they were going to try to take their game up a level because of last night’s result,” Bergeron said. “They did that [and] we didn’t. We got off to a poor start and really were not able to get on top of it.
“We ultimately got the bounces we deserved. Their second goal was a bad bounce. We couldn’t find a bounce. I think we got the bounces we deserved based on the start.”