Jan. 28, 2012
Big Rapids, Mich. - Michigan State fell on the road at Ferris State on Saturday, 4-3, and with its second one-goal loss of the weekend, was swept for the third time this season. MSU falls below .500 in CCHA play, at 8-9-3-2 and is 13-11-4 overall. Ferris State went 2-for-9 on the man advantage, the most opportunities and extra-man tallies allowed in a game by the Spartans since November.
"I thought our effort was fine tonight, though it was disappointing to go down a goal in that final minute at the end of the first," said head coach Tom Anastos. "I was disappointed in the third period, because I thought we took bad penalties there, and that hurt us in terms of having a chance to get back into it."
"The standings in the CCHA are tight, but we had an opportunity that we didn't take advantage of," continued Anastos. " We have to go back, have a good week of practice, and get ready for Ohio State on the road next weekend."
The teams traded early goals. The Spartans got on the board at 4:07, as Mike Merrifield carried the puck into the right circle and sniped his 11th goal of the season into the upper right corner, over the glove hand of Taylor Nelson. Just under two minutes later, the home team got the goal back on the power play, with Derek Graham finding a spot under Palmisano's blocker hand for his second goal of the season.
Ferris took a 2-1 lead with just 36 minutes remaining in the opening period. A rush up the ice after a Spartan power play gave Ferris an odd-man rush, and what appeared to be a dump behind the net by Cory Kane rang the left post. The officials signaled goal, which seemed to surprise all 10 skaters on the ice. The goal went to review, and was upheld as a good score for the Bulldogs.
Ferris State got a goal early in the second frame to extend their lead to two goals. Jordie Johnston's 15th goal of the season came at 2:49, pushing the Ferris lead to 3-1. The Spartans battled back and put the next two markers on the board to go into the locker room tied at three in the second intermission. The first one came as Brent Darnell pulled the Spartans within a goal at 8:45, putting back a Torey Krug shot for his fourth goal of the season.
Late in the period, the Spartans were whistled for too many men, and responded with an aggressive kill which saw MSU spending extended time in their offensive zone despite being down a man. That momentum carried over into the waning minutes of the period; With just under 90 seconds on the clock in the middle frame, the Spartans created an odd-man rush, with an outlet pass from Daultan Leveille sending the lead pass to Brett Perlini and Greg Wolfe to crash the net. Perlini had the shot from the left side, and it was saved by Nelson; Wolfe crashed the net and put back the rebound for his ninth goal of the season - but more importantly, a tie ballgame.
A slashing call against Matt Berry 23 seconds into the third period gave the Bulldogs an early power-play opportunity in the third period, and they used it to take a 4-3 lead at 1:58 on the strength of a Travis Ouellette goal, set up by Derek Graham and Chad Billins. The third period was a penalty-filled affair, showcasing special teams for most of the final frame.
The Spartans, who own nine losses in CCHA play, have dropped five straight one-goal decisions in conference games and their eighth one-goal loss of the season overall.
Drew Palmisano made 25 saves for the Spartans, while Tyler Nelson made 19 at the other end.
The Spartans are back on the road next weekend, with a two-game series at Ohio State.