BIG RAPIDS, Mich. - Jeff Lerg made a season-best 37 saves and Tim Crowder scored twice to pace Michigan State to a 4-3 lead at Ferris State on Friday. Justin Abdelkader added a goal and an assist for the Spartans, who improve to 11-3-2 on the season, and are now 7-2-0 in conference play Ferris State falls to 7-7-1 despite a 34-save performance from netminder Mitch O'Keefe.
Michigan State jumped on the board late in the first period. Daniel Vukovic corralled a Ferris State clearing attempt at the right point, and sent a slapshot netward. The puck was tipped in flight by Abdelkader, who was stationed at the hashmarks - the deflection beat O'Keefe at the left post at 17:32, giving the Spartans a 1-0 lead they would hold at the first intermission.
Michigan State doubled its lead just over three minutes into the second period. Matt Schepke dug the puck out of the right corner and threw it into the slot, where Nick Sucharski backhanded the loose puck into the left side of the net. It was the third tally of the year for the junior centerman.
A power play goal got the Bulldogs back in the game at 7:46. With Michael Ratchuk in the box on a double minor, Corey Couturier tipped a blast by Adam Miller from the blue line.
The teams traded goals less than a minute apart in the early part of the final frame. MSU took a 3-1 lead on a goal by Tim Crowder on a two-on-one. Jeff Petry generated the break with a nice play from behind his own blue line, pushing the puck from out of the zone while on his back for Abdelkader. Abdelkader and Crowder went in on the break, and Crowder sniped the puck over the left shoulder of O'Keefe for his third goal of the season. The Bulldogs followed suit at 5:43, when Scott Wietecha potted an unassisted goal for the home team.
The Spartans pushed their lead back to two goals with its first power play goal of the night at 7:20. Ratchuk's shot from the left point was tipped in front by Crowder for his second score of the period. Ferris again cut the lead to a single goal, potting its second power-play tally of the night at 12:21 from Aaron Lewicki, off an assist from Evan Case. The home team pressed for an equalizer, but Jeff Lerg was up to the task, making two of his 10 third-period saves while Ferris had O'Keefe pulled in favor of an extra attacker.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday night in East Lansing. The puck drops at 7 p.m. in a game that will be televised by Comcast Local.