March 23, 2012
Bridgeport, Conn. - The Michigan State hockey season came to an end on Friday in Bridgeport, Conn., as the Spartans fell to No. 3 Union, 3-1. Freshman Matt Berry had the MSU tally in the second period, and sophomore Will Yanakeff made 29 saves.
The game concludes the careers of nine Spartan seniors - defensemen Brock Shelgren, Matt Crandell, Tim Buttery, and AJ Sturges, goaltender Drew Palmisano, and forwards Mike Merrifield, Trevor Nill, Brett Perlini, and Daultan Leveille.
"I thought that we got the game that we expected from Union," said head coach Tom Anastos. "The story for us was that we had some opportunities that we didn't capitalize on. Union is a very good, disciplined team."
Midway through the first period, the Spartans went down a man as Dean Chelios was whistled for hitting from behind and also assessed a game misconduct, sending him to the locker room for the balance of the game. The Spartan penalty kill did a nice job of stemming the tide, turning away chances deep in the zone and denying any grade-A chances. MSU looked like it had gotten a reprieve when Daniel Carr negated the man advantage for Union when he took a tripping call in the neutral zone to put the teams skating four-on-four; off the faceoff, however, the Dutchmen created a two-on-one, and Maz Novak converted off an assist from Jeremy Welsh to put Union on the board at 15:09.
With 1:18 remaining in the period, the Spartans looked like they had tied the game on a goalmouth scramble. A lengthy review followed, with the eventual no-goal call coming as the officials skated out of the box. The ruling was that the net had been dislodged before the puck went in the net.
Union doubled its lead with a goal less than four minutes into the second period. Mat Bodie had the initial shot on net, which was saved by Yanakeff at the right post. Welsh collected the rebound going right-to-left across the crease, and beat Yanakeff low blocker-side with his 26th goal of the season.
The Spartans got a power-play marker in the final minute of the second period to trail by only a goal headed into the final frame. The Spartans avoided disaster when Union captain Nolan Julseth-White whiffed on a 3-on-0 shorthanded chance with a minute to play in the game; the Spartans rushed back down the other way, and Brett Perlini left a nice drop pass for Matt Berry just over the blue line at the left wall. Berry drove across the top of the slot into the right circle, and wristed a shot that went high-corner on Groesnick.
Entering the final two minutes of regulation, the Spartans went down a man when Greg Wolfe was whistled for hooking; the ensuing power play resulted in a snipe from winger Wayne Simpson. The Spartans had a couple of good chances in the late part of the period - notably from the stick of senior Brett Perlini - but could not solve Groesnick to inch any closer.
MSU concludes its season with a 19-16-4 overall record.