East Lansing, Mich. - Michigan State suffered its first loss on a senior night in its last eight tries, falling 2-1 to Bowling Green at Munn Arena on Saturday evening. The Spartans suffered their second straight loss at home, and fall to 19-12-3 overall on the season and 15-10-3 in the CCHA. Bowling Green, which finishes 12th in the CCHA standings with a 5-22-1 conference record and is now 7-27-2 overall, will be on the road for next weekend's first round of the CCHA playoffs. Michigan State, which earned the fourth and final bye spot last night with a 5-3 win over Bowling Green on the road, will play in the quarterfinal round at home in a best-of-three quarterfinal series March 9-11.
Bowling Green's go-ahead tally came at 11:13 through the final frame, courtesy of junior winger Jonathan Matsumoto. The junior's tally was also the first lead of the game for the visitors. The winger flew into the slot and took a tape-to-tape pass from Tomas Petruska in the right circle, and Matsumoto popped it over the stick-hand of Jeff Lerg.
The game was a tight affair throughout. Back-to-back penalties whistled against the Spartans in the middle of the opening frame gave the visitors nearly four full minutes of power-play time, but MSU limited their visitors to just one shot in that span. Both teams had some chances, but the goaltenders kept the opportunities at bay and the teams skated into the first intermission scoreless.
Michigan State opened the scoring less than a minute into the middle period, when Jeff Dunne wristed the puck from inside the top of the right circle which eluded Jimmy Spratt high, glove-side. It was the first collegiate goal for the blueliner, and it put the home team on the board with its first lead of the night,.
The visitors knotted the game at one off a nifty play by winger Derek Whitmore, who potted his third goal of the weekend at the 6:49 mark. Whitmore eluded a defender and let loose a rocket from the right hash mark that froze Jeff Lerg and flew over his glove hand.
Shortly after Matsumoto's goal at 11:13, Jeff Dunne was whistled for a five-minute major, putting the Falcons on an extended power play. Trailing in the game, the Spartans had no choice but to be aggressive, and had a pair of chances in the first 30 seconds of the major, including a Nick Sucharski and Bryan Lerg two-on-two break which saw Sucharski leave a nifty drop pass for his centerman, but Jimmy Spratt came up with the big save to preserve the Falcon lead.
Chris Mueller drew a penalty in the offensive zone with under a minute remaining on the major, evening the manpower to four-on-four, then giving the Spartans a power play for a more than 50 seconds as time clicked off the clock.
Though the Spartans had good pressure late, but the Falcon defense was up to the task, and kept MSU off the board, despite Jeff Lerg pulled for an extra skater.
Michigan State will look to regroup during its bye week, and will ready for the quarterfinal round at Munn Arena March 9-11.