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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Spartans split with Mavericks at home

By Matt Mackinder/Michigan State Beat Writer

The Michigan State Spartans had their eight-game unbeaten streak snapped Friday night against Nebraska-Omaha in an overtime loss, but rebounded to start a new streak with a big win Saturday night.

Friday night, Michigan State's streak of 20 consecutive overtime games without a loss came to an end when Dan Charleston put the puck past Jeff Lerg at 2:53 of the overtime period to give the visiting Mavericks a 5-4 victory over the Spartans.

MSU had gotten a pair of goals in the final 12 minutes of regulation, including an extra-attacker goal from senior captain Bryan Lerg with 1:04 remaining, to battle back from a two-goal deficit.

“We deserved at least the tie,” Spartans head coach Rick Comley said. “I'm not sure that we deserved to win, but we tied it late. And you'd hope that we'd at least get a point out of it. My fear was that we would come out flat and have struggles getting in the game, and that's what happened. It was a tough night for Jeff [Lerg] - bad goals, but great saves. I tried to warn them all week. What we feared is what you saw. We didn't play well enough until we were forced to. You have to come and play, and if you don't, good teams are going to beat you.”

Justin Abdelkader scored twice and added an assist, Corey Tropp added a goal and two assists and Tim Kennedy chipped in two helpers for MSU. Lerg finished with 28 saves.

Then the next afternoon, Lerg made 37 saves, including 18 (one on a penalty shot) in the third period, to backstop Michigan State to a 4-2 victory.

The Andrew Rowe-Bryan Lerg-Tim Crowder line combined for all four goals and six assists, as the win earned the Spartans a split in the weekend series.

Lerg scored a pair and Rowe and Crowder had one apiece. Crowder had three assists and Rowe tallied two more.

“I thought we played a lot better for around 40 minutes,” MSU defenseman Daniel Vukovic said. “Defensively, we played a lot better, and the forwards back-checked much better today. I thought the defense played better and [Jeff] Lerg stepped it up. So, yes, there was definitely an improvement today.”

The Spartans (18-6-5, 14-3-3 CCHA) prepare for their final two-game road trip of the regular season as they will travel to Marquette this weekend for a series with Northern Michigan. Game times each evening are 7:35 p.m.

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