Michigan State had to battle to send their seniors off in style, netting a 6-3 victory over Bowling Green Friday night.
A misleading final score belied the struggle the Green and White had in defeating the Falcons on senior night at Munn Arena. In fact, at one point, overtime seemed imminent.
Up 3-2 in the third, the Spartans appeared to regain a two-goal advantage 5:54 into the period. That potential goal, however, was disallowed and instead of celebrating, the Spartans were sent to the penalty kill because of goaltender interference by Ryan Turek.
Although the Falcons could not capitalize at that point, BG center Todd McIlrath solved Spartan goalie Jeff Lerg with 7:10 to go in regulation, locking the score at 3-3.
As the game wore down, overtime appeared inevitable until forward Justin Abdelkader struck net with his 18 goal of the season, and second on the evening, at the 17:41 mark. The goal survived a video review and the Green and White took a 4-3 lead.
Then, as if they decided enough was enough, the Spartans struck again. Only seconds after regaining the lead — 22, to be exact — forward Tim Kennedy put the game on ice for MSU with his 17 goal of the season.
Abdelkader rounded off his night with a hat trick, scoring an empty-netter with under a minute remaining, giving him four points in the contest.
Michigan State outshot the Falcons 36-31.
After the game, seniors Bryan Lerg, Dan Vukovic, Chris Mueller, Jeff Dunne and Zak McClellan skated to mid-ice, went to their knees and kissed the block 'S' before being carried off by their teammates — all to the song "So Long, Farewell" and a jumbo-tron video tribute.
In their career, the departing seniors helped the Green and White icers to a national championship, a CCHA tournament title and two Great Lakes Invitational titles. The Spartans' record was 92-51-20 in that time-span.
Michigan State plays their final game of the regular season Saturday night in Bowling Green with the opening faceoff scheduled for 7:35 p.m.
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