Saturday, December 4, 2021

Icers shake off early deficits

December 4, 2000
Sophomore defenseman Brad Fast, left, tries to shoot past Bowling Green left wing Austin de Luis during MSU —

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - The Spartans are still in first place in the CCHA, and probably in the nation, but their weekend trip to Bowling Green was no cakewalk.

No. 1 MSU (11-1-3 overall, 8-1-2 CCHA) had to come back from early deficits both nights to salvage a 3-3 tie Friday and a 3-1 win Saturday at BGSU Ice Arena.

The Spartans maintained their two point league lead over Michigan, which notched three points in a series against Northern Michigan in Marquette. Northern entered the weekend tied for second with the Wolverines, but is now four points off the pace.

MSU probably won’t fall from its No. 1 national perch, even though No. 2 North Dakota swept its weekend series at Alaska-Anchorage. The Spartans held a 71-point edge over the Fighting Sioux in the latest U.S. College Hockey Online poll and a 25-point edge in the USA Today ranking.

Bowling Green (2-8-4, 2-6-4) brought the league’s worst offense (2.25 goals per game) against the Spartans’ league-best defense (1.54 goals against per game), but still got on the board first in both games.

After a short-handed goal had MSU down 1-0 late in the first period Saturday night, Spartan junior right wing Adam Hall got his team back on track with his team-leading ninth goal of the year. Hall flipped a shot past Falcon goaltender Tyler Masters after a strong backhand move to get in front of the net.

Freshman center Jeremy Jackson, who missed Friday’s game with a groin injury, tallied the game-winner 7:29 into the second period Saturday during a 5-on-3 MSU advantage. He now has seven goals this season.

“(Jackson) is creating a lot of offense for us,” Hall said. “I’m so used to playing with (sophomore left wing Brian) Maloney and Jeremy. We’ve got a really good chemistry and know what each other’s going to be doing.

“The power play clicked and our penalty kill killed off all our penalties tonight. Special teams were huge this weekend.”

Maloney added an insurance goal 14:56 into the second frame, taking a one-timer feed from senior right wing Rustyn Dolyny and ripping it past Masters during another 5-on-3 advantage. Dolyny assisted on all three Spartan goals Saturday night.

“We played extremely well in their zone,” Mason said. “It was a pretty even game, but we played really well 5-on-5 tonight. (Bowling Green) is a feisty team that’s really hard to play against.”

Friday night ended in a 3-3 tie after MSU fell behind 2-0 in the first six minutes before scoring three straight goals.

Senior center Andrew Bogle and senior left wing Sean Patchell tallied in the second period to swing momentum back in favor of the Spartans.

And 1:26 into the third period, MSU grabbed its first lead of the contest after Hall single-handedly occupied two defenders and kicked the puck to Maloney who was wide open in front of the Falcon net.

Maloney waited for Masters to go down before wristing a shot top-shelf.

With a 3-2 lead in the third period, it appeared that the Spartans would be able to sneak away with a win considering MSU sophomore goaltender Ryan Miller had not allowed more than two goals in a game since a 5-4 win over Alaska-Anchorage on Oct. 13.

But seconds after sophomore defenseman Brad Fast’s penalty expired, Falcon right wing Ryan Fultz smacked a rebound past Miller to knot the score at 3-3 with 4:55 left in regulation.

“I played with Fultz in juniors and he got the tying goal, which kind of ticks me off,” Miller said with a smile after Saturday’s victory. “They have some good speed and very skilled players up front. I just had to bear down and remember that hockey is a process and not a final result.”

The Spartans seemed more fatigued than usual during Friday’s overtime period and only got one shot on net.

“We didn’t have quite the legs because today was a travel day,” Patchell said after the game. “We got caught on (line) changes a couple of times.”

MSU had to settle for the tie despite out-shooting the Falcons 31-19 for the game.

The Spartans are now 9-1-3 in their last 13 games against Bowling Green.

The Spartans finish the first half of their schedule this weekend with a home-and-home series against Ferris State. The opener will be Friday in Big Rapids and the second contest will be Saturday at Munn Ice Arena. Both games are slated for 7:05 p.m.

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