March 1, 2013
East Lansing, Mich. -- - Western Michigan used a three-goal outburst in the second period to pull away and post a 5-2 victory over Michigan State on Friday night at Munn Ice Arena. MSU was assured an 11th-place finish in the CCHA with the loss, while the Broncos hold on to their hopes for a first-place finish as they secured their first win in the last six games.
MSU (10-22-3, 8-18-1-0) hosts Western Michigan again on Saturday to close out the season series at Munn Ice Arena. The Broncos (19-8-8, 15-6-6-3), by virtue of a Miami loss to Ohio State on Friday, trail the first-place RedHawks by two points and could win the CCHA regular-season crown if they win tomorrow and Miami loses to the Buckeyes.
Michigan State took a lead at the 9:19 mark of the opening period. After Colton Hargrove was sent off for hitting from behind, the Spartans set up in the offensive zone. Matt Berry collected the puck at the hashmarks and circled around the back of the net to Slubowski's left. Berry moved out to the left post and put a shot on net, but Slubowski made the stop. Brent Darnell was there for the putback for his 10th goal of the season.
Western Michigan used a three-goal outburst in the middle period to turn the tie game into a comfortable 4-1 lead. Two of the goals were just bad-luck breaks for MSU - the first goal of the period came at 14:11, as Shane Berschbach skated around an MSU defender who lost his footing to go in alone on Hildebrand. Less than a minute later, Nolan LaPorte finished off a pretty 3-on-2 rush at the right post, and netted his third goal of the season. At 17:11, while skating on a five-on-three advantage, Chase Balisy banked in his 10th goal of the season off a leg of a Spartan defender in front of Hildebrand to push the WMU lead to 4-1 at the second intermission.
The Broncos piled on with a fifth marker when the third period was five minutes old. After WMU forced a turnover at the far blue line, Colton Hargrove fought his way through three MSU defenders to net his seventh goal of the season.
At 12:28 of the period, Sha¬ne Berschbach was sent off for high sticking, and MSU wasted little time putting a goal on the board. Just 12 seconds into the man advantage, Tanner Sorenson took a pass from Matt DeBlouw, took a slight stutter step from where he was at the top of the left circle, and ripped his 11th goal of the season.
MSU pressed for more, but hit the crossbar once and the post on a second occasion, and could not draw closer and settled on the 5-2 loss. Jake Hildebrand made 31 saves, while Frank Slubowski made 20 for the visitors.
The teams will meet again on Saturday in a 7:05 puck drop. Prior to the game, the MSU seniors will be honored in a pre-game ceremony; fans are asked to be in their seats by 6:45 to properly honor the players who will compete in their final game at Munn Ice Arena.
NOTES: Brent Darnell scored his 10th goal of the season on the power play in the first period. He's the third player to reach the 10-goal mark this season behind Matt Berry and Tanner Sorenson ... Darnell's score was also his fourth power-play marker of the year ... MSU snapped a streak of 10 consecutive man-advantage chances without a goal, dating back to the Feb. 16 game vs. Northern Michigan.