The Spartans rolled into Big Rapids for their first true road game since a December 9th contest at Yost Ice Arena, and the Spartans came out with a little bit of jump and showed no signs of being afraid of being on the road. State battled hard in the defensive opening frame. MSU didn't find much in front of the Bulldogs net mustering only 7 shots on goal. In the second period, State got going late in the period as they tallied their first power play goal of 2012 to take a 1-0 lead. It was a strange play as it took 5-10 minutes for the officials to review it, but the officials overturned the on-ice call of 'no goal' to give the Spartans the lead. Matt Berry charged the net with the puck and flipped it past Taylor Nelson. Berry then crashed over Nelson which caused the official to waive the goal off on the ice. Tim Buttery and Will Yanakeff were credited with assists.
The lead didn't last long though as the Spartans took a late penalty and once again gave up a last minute goal when the Bulldogs tied it with under 18 seconds to go in the period on the power play. That was the first power play goal given up by the Spartans in four games. What might be more amazing is that it was the first 5 on 4 goal given up by MSU since November 26, 2011 - a 4-4 tie against Minnesota. Since that time the State PK has done the following:
vs. Bowling Green 7 for 7
vs. Michigan 3 for 3
GLI vs. Tech 3 for 4 (a 5 on 3 PPG allowed)
GLI vs. Michigan 3 for 4 (a 6 on 4 PPG allowed)
vs. Miami 7 for 8 (a 5 on 3 PPG allowed)
vs. Northern Michigan 7 for 7
vs. LSSU 3 for 3
In the third period, Ferris State seemed to control the play a little bit more, and T.J. Schlueter tallied a beautiful goal skating between four Spartan players to beat Yanakeff with 6:40 to go in the game. That goal proved to be the difference maker as MSU struggled to get the puck back in the offensive zone over the final minute with Yanakeff pulled. Ferris State out-shot MSU 30-25.
I don't think it surprises anyone that this was a tight game. Ferris State is the best defensive team in the CCHA right now. Coach Anastos didn't sound pleased after the game with the effort stating that the Spartans needed to do a better job getting to the net. He didn't think the effort was there from everyone, so it'll be interesting to see how the team responds tomorrow night.
Scores Around the CCHA:
Western Michigan 4 Bowling Green 1 (at Western)
Northern Michigan 2 Miami 1 (at Miami)
LSSU 1 Ohio State 0 (at LSSU)
Notre Dame at Alaska (Inc.)
Western Michigan moves into first place in the CCHA with 36 points. Ohio State is 1 point behind, and Western still has two games on hand. I'd say the Broncos are in a pretty nice position right now. Ferris State moved into 3rd place just two points behind the Broncos. LSSU ties Miami for 4th place at 33 points, Idle Michigan falls to 6th place with 32 points. Michigan State remains in 8th place regardless of the outcome of the ND-Alaska game. MSU will need to earn some points tomorrow night to keep pace with the cluster in front. The good news, I suppose, is 8th place is the final home ice spot for the first round of the playoffs.
MSU fell to 19th in the Pairwise (at the moment), which would put them on the outside of the NCAA tournament.