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Falcons to face off with Michigan State tonight

Back on Oct. 9, 2007, University of Windsor hockey coach Pete Belliveau and his team lost an exhibition game to Michigan State 6-0. Belliveau said he ‘was impressed with that team’s speed’ when the season started.

Then, three days later, the Lancers came to BG for another exhibition and it’s safe to say that Belliveau was blown away by the Falcons’ speed in a 12-1 loss.

Thus, if BG holds one advantage over the defending national champion Spartans this weekend in the regular season’s final series, it is a valuable quickness.

‘Our speed is clearly a strength for us,’ BG coach Scott Paluch said. ‘We have to use it to our advantage this weekend, but with Michigan State, they don’t have a lot of weaknesses. That’s usually what you get when you play championship-level teams.’

Michigan State is coming off of a split with Michigan in which each Central Collegiate Hockey Association team won a game by a 5-2 final.

BG lost Friday’s game to Ferris State 2-1, but then came back Saturday for a 2-1 victory of their own on John Mazzei’s third period goals.

The parallels for this weekend’s season finale continue.

Paluch and MSU coach Rick Comley have split their first 12 meetings since Paluch’s hiring for the 2002-03 season. This 6-6 mark for each coach includes last season’s Falcon win in the final regular season game. At the time, BG was stuck in last place in the CCHA while the Spartans were headed for national glory.

This time around, the spoils will be a little different.

If BG can steal a few points from MSU using that above-mentioned quickness, they could lock up fifth-place in the CCHA for the first time since 2004-05. At the same time, they could hold the defending national champs from moving any higher than third in the league.

‘That was a really hard-fought series last year,’ said Falcon tri-captain Michael Hodgson. ‘Both teams were battling pretty hard. It’s definitely going to take a lot of hard work and physical play on our part to win again, but it should be a great match-up.’

The other intriguing factor in this weekend’s final home-and-home series is that each club will get to hold its respective senior night ceremonies before the pucks drop.

MSU will honor five seniors-Jeff Dunne, Bryan Lerg, Zak McClellan, Chris Mueller and Daniel Vukovic-before Friday’s 7:05 p.m. start at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing.

Tomorrow, BG will recognize its own five seniors-Ben Geelan, Michael Hodgson, John Mazzei, Mike Nesdill, and Derek Whitmore-leading up to the 7:05 conclusion of the 2007-08 regular season.

‘It’s definitely going to be a special night,’ said Hodgson of tomorrow’s game. ‘We’ve had four great years here so far, and there’s still a lot on the line with playoffs coming up.

‘We have a lot to prove since we were picked to finish last this season, so we’re going to come out pretty hard.’

Mazzei, another Falcon tri-captain, feels the same way about ending, or perhaps not yet ending, his career here this weekend.

‘I only have a few games left here as a senior, and I’m just trying to go out as best I can,’ said Mazzei, who has been hot with six goals in the last 10 games for BG. ‘I don’t want to end my career here yet.’

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