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Monday, February 22, 2010

Spartans earn split with Ferris State

By Tom Morelli/Ferris State Beat Writer

The battle for sole possession of second place in the CCHA standings remains unsettled, as Ferris State and Michigan State each grabbed a victory at home over the weekend.

Before a sellout crowd at the Ewigleben Ice Arena, Ferris State opened-up the series in convincing fashion on Friday night with a 4-1 decision.

Despite a slow start, the Bulldogs pulled together a monstrous second period by scoring three goals within a nine-minute span.

Senior winger Aaron Lewicki initiated the run on a rebound at 6:51 after linemates Blair Riley and Justin Menke could not get their shots past Spartans’ goaltender Drew Palmisano.

Second-chance scoring opportunities played a factor in the next Ferris State goal, as junior Mike Fillinger scored the game-winner after Todd Pococke’s blast from between the circles fell just outside of the crease.

Derek Graham and Pococke would tally their second assists of the contest on a Kyle Bonis goal with a little over four minutes remaining in the frame.

Michigan State managed to get on the scoreboard early in the third, thanks in part to a roughing call on the Bulldogs’ Matt Case. After taking a pass from Corey Tropp, Torey Krug fired a shot on netminder Pat Nagle from the left side, which was redirected from just outside the crease by Derek Grant.

Ferris State padded their lead with a power-play goal by center Justin Menke at 13:45.

The Bulldogs held the advantage in shots on net, 29-23.

With vengeance on their minds, the Spartans returned the favor on Saturday night with a 3-2 victory.

It didn’t take long for Michigan State to strike, as Andrew Rowe banged one in on Nagle at the 4:51 mark, following a missed opportunity by Matt Crandell.

The Spartans would hold their lead until late in the first, when Menke tied the game on a Ferris State power-play.

Jay Sprague put Michigan State back on top with his first of the campaign midway through the second stanza, only to have the Bulldogs’ Chad Billins answer back with a short-handed marker just minutes later.

With 12:31 gone by in the third period, the Spartans regained control, following some key work from behind the net by Daultan Levielle. Working along the right boards, Levielle passed the puck to a speeding Dustin Gazely, who chipped in the game winning-goal from the left side of the crease.

Palmisano held a slight edge in saves over Nagle, 25-23.

“It was a good hockey game,” said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels. “I’m disappointed obviously with the end result, but I’m not disappointed with how the kids played and how hard they worked. We come out of the weekend seeing two teams that are pretty even I think, [so] we’ll take it from there.”

Michigan State (18-11-5 overall, 13-8-5-2 CCHA) concludes the regular season with a home-and-home series against Bowling Green this weekend. Friday’s game is set for a 6:05 pm start in East Lansing, and can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit. The following night, Bowling Green plays host, with puck-drop scheduled at 7:05 pm.

The Bulldogs (19-11-4 overall, 13-9-4-3 CCHA) finish-up league play this weekend with a home-and-home against rival Western Michigan. The first game will be played at 7:05 pm on Friday in Big Rapids, with a special senior night ceremony beforehand. The Broncos return the favor on Saturday night, with a start time of 7:35 pm.

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