Spartans Wrap Up CCHA Bye, Skate By Falcons, 5-3
Feb. 23, 2007
Bowling Green, Ohio - Michigan State wrapped up a top-four finish in the CCHA standings with a 5-3 victory at Bowling Green on Friday evening. The decision snapped a four-game winless skid for the Spartans, as senior Chris Snavely potted his first goal of the season, the eventual game-winner, in the third period for the win.
The homestanding Falcons, skating in their final regular-season home game, wasted little time getting on the board as Derek Whitmore buried his 15th goal of the season just 49 seconds into the contest. Whitmore poked the puck from a scrum in front of the net through the legs of goaltender Jeff Lerg for the early 1-0 lead for the home team. Blueliner Russ Sinkewich and centerman Jonathan Matsumoto were credited with assists.
The Spartans scored twice in 57 seconds to turn a one-goal deficit into a one-goal advantage. The first initiated when Tim Crowder kept a BG clearing attempt in the zone and sent it down to Tim Kennedy below the goal line in the right corner. Kennedy threw the puck into the slot for a crashing Justin Abdelkader, who one-timed the puck past goalie Jimmy Spratt stick-side. Chris Mueller struck less than a minute later, stuffing the puck past Spratt at the left post off assists from winger Jay Sprague and Snavely.
The homestanding Falcons gained a tying goal 3:43 into the middle frame. After a shot was blocked by Justin Abdelkader, Matsumoto's offering was saved by Lerg, but the rebound came out to the right side onto the stick of an opportunistic Whitmore, who had am empty half of the net into which he deposited his second tally of the night.
Bowling Green thought it had gone ahead at the six-minute mark, but an official's review declared no goal, and the teams played on. It took just 12 seconds for the home team to get one that would stand - John Mazzei batted a puck out of midair that flipped up and over the shoulder of Jeff Lerg for a 3-2 Falcon lead.
The goals came fast and furious again in the middle frame, as Bryan Lerg got the goal back for his cousin at the other end to knot the score again 26 seconds later. Nick Sucharski's shot from the left half-wall was saved by Spratt, as was Lerg's first whack at the rebound. The second save by Spratt didn't travel far, but Lerg collected the puck and tucked it past the goaltender at the right post for his first goal in four games and his team-leading 21st of the season.
Michigan State went back ahead at the 4:10 mark of the final frame, when Chris Snavely's laser from inside the left circle eluded Spratt stick-side. Snavely received the pass from Chris Lawrence deep in the right corner, and buried his first goal of the season.
Jim McKenzie snapped an 0-for-18 slump on the power play for the Spartans with his seventh goal of the season at 16:46 to give MSU some insurance on their lead. McKenzie poked the puck free at the offensive blue line and skated in untouched, and sniped a shot low, stick-side on the BG netminder to push Michigan State's lead to 5-3. The home team pulled Spratt for the final minute in an effort to climb closer, but the Spartans were up to the task and closed out the final frame.
Michigan State's win, combined with Miami's win at Northern Michigan, has solidified a fourth-place finish in the regular-season CCHA standings. Michigan State will have a bye during next week's first round of postseason tournament action, and will take on one of the four advancing teams in a best-of-three series March 9-11 at Munn Ice Arena.
The two teams will face off again on Saturday in East Lansing, a game which starts at 6:30 p.m. and will feature a pre-game ceremony honoring the five Michigan State seniors skating in their final home games.
NOTES: Bowling Green's goal at :49 of the opening period was the fourth allowed by the Spartans in the opening minute of a period this season ... Michigan State scored more goals tonight (5) than they did in their three-game losing streak last week (4) ... Ten different players had at least a point in this game, and only Chris Snavely had a multiple-point game. His third-period tally was his 40th career point, and it gave him just his seventh career multiple-point game ... Justin Abdelkader's first -period goal was the first even-strength tally MSU had scored in its last 11 periods. Abdelkader has 13 points in his last 11 games after returning from the World Junior Championships ... The Spartan penalty kill is perfect in four of its last six games and are 26-of-29 (.897) in that span ... MSU is now 9-0-0 when Chris Mueller scores a goal ... Mueller and Jay Sprague both snapped five-game streaks without a point ... Bryan Lerg, who had been held off the board in the last three games, got off the schneid with a second-period tally. His streak of four consecutive game-winning goals was snapped, however ...
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