Nov. 2, 2012
WATCH: Highlights vs. Bowling Green
By Neil Koepke, MSUSpartans.com staff writer
Bowling Green senior Andrew Hammond is considered among the best goaltenders in the CCHA. On Friday night at Munn Arena, he provided plenty of evidence in support of that reputation.
Michigan State's bid for its second straight victory was stymied by Hammond, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior, who was sharp and smooth in making 29 saves and leading the Falcons to a 1-0 victory in front of 4,641 fans.
The Spartans (1-2-0-0 CCHA, 2-4-1 overall) fired 14 shots on goal in the final period, including three during a 5-on-3 power play for 1:06, but couldn't solve Hammond, who was solid on the first shots and rarely gave up rebounds.
The Falcons (1-1-1-1 CCHA, 2-4-2 overall) scored the only goal of the game at 16:16 of the first period when defenseman Connor Kucera's shot from the point caught the right corner, past screened Spartan freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand (24 saves).
"Their goaltender is good and it's not easy to score goals on him. You have to get traffic in front and hope you get second and third chances,'' MSU coach Tom Anastos. "We had a few but we couldn't bury them.
"Give Bowling Green credit. They played a patient road game and were difficult to play against. They played really well around their goaltender, they played hard and made it tough on us.''
One of MSU's best chances came on the 5-on-3 power play when freshman defenseman John Draeger's one-timed the puck from the left circle only to see it hit the right post.
"I tried to sneak it in there but it hit flat off the post and hopped out,'' Draeger said. "He played real well and we just couldn't get anything past him. We've got to crash the net more and get some second chances. Every first shot, he was making saves on.''
The Spartans will try to salvage a series split when they face the Falcons at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the BGSU Ice Arena.
"It's been up and down so far,'' MSU junior right wing and captain Greg Wolfe said of his team's offense thus far this season. "The big thing last Saturday in a 4-2 win at LSSU) was getting the three power-play goals, but tonight it was hard for us.
"We had some chances but their goaltender was good and he took a lot of second and third chances away by smothering the puck. We have to find a way to get those second and third chances. It may not be the prettiest goals but we've got to find a way to get the job done.
"I didn't think our energy level was bad. But with all the penalties (in the second period) it was tough to establish a rhythm. We just have to keep battling and play through it and we'll start getting some good bounces.''
Both the Spartans and Falcons went 0-for-5 on the power play.
While MSU pushed to tie the game, throughout the second and third periods, Hildebrand did his best to keep the Spartans in the game with several key saves.
In the second period, Hildebrand - making his second career start after winning his first game last Saturday against Lake Superior State - made three or four solid saves to prevent the visitors from taking a two-goal lead.
He made a standout pad save on an odd-man rush in the third period to keep MSU in the game.
"He played very well. You can't ask for anything more,'' Drager said. "He made some great saves and kept us in the game.''
Anastos said he wanted to give Hildebrand the experience of playing at home, coming off his first career victory. The Spartan coach said junior Will Yanakeff will start tonight's game at BGSU.
"Hildebrand had a real good game. He was steady and looked confident,'' Anastos said. "We wanted to give get him in at home to give him that experience. We wanted to get in both goaltenders this weekend.''
Bowling Green's win over MSU was its first since a 4-0 victory on Feb. 21, 2009, at BGSU. The Spartans were 7-0-1 in the last eight meetings and had won the last four.
"This game is a game of inches and for our team right now, that's probably how it's going to be,'' Anastos said. "Last year, we generated a lot of offense from our defense. But we have a completely new makeup. It's going to take time.''
Notes: Senior left wing Kevin Walrod returned to the lineup on Friday after missing the last three games with flu ... Freshman Ryan Keller is out indefinitely with an upper body injury. Keller was injured in practice last week ... Freshman defenseman Rhett Holland, who suffered a shoulder injury in last Friday's game at Lake Superior State, is out for the season and will have surgery, Anastos said on Friday. MSU has already lost senior forward Dean Chelios to a season-ending shoulder injury. Both Chelios and Holland will receive medical redshirts.