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September 29, 2023

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BG finishes out season against MSU

A long and difficult regular season comes to an end this weekend for the BGSU hockey team, as the Falcons take on No. 13 Michigan State in a home-and-home series.

BG (6-26-2, 4-21-1 CCHA) is looking for some much-needed momentum heading into next weekend’s opening round of the CCHA playoffs in which they are assured to travel to face the fifth place team in the league.

“It’s important to be at the top of your game heading into playoffs, and for us the biggest thing is confidence,” said BG coach Scott Paluch. “We had a pretty good dose of that a week ago [defeating No. 10 Michigan], and we couldn’t capitalize on that this past weekend [losing twice at Ferris State]. I think it’s important we get that positive feeling back heading into the playoffs, wherever we may go.”

It will be no small task for the Falcons, as Michigan State (18-11-3,14-9-3) also will be looking for positives heading into the playoffs. MSU is currently stuck in a four-game winless streak, their longest drought of the season. However, despite their recent struggles, the Spartans can still clinch a first round bye with a single point this weekend.

“The strength of [Michigan State] has been the ability to shut teams down at times with Lerg in goal and a pretty confident team,” Paluch said. “They’ve come into a stretch where they’ve gone four games in a row without a win, so they’re going to be extremely hungry.”

The Spartans boast the second-ranked defense in the CCHA (2.44 goals allowed per game), led by goaltender Jeff Lerg (.913 save percentage). The offense (3.1 goals per game) is led by a trio of forwards: Tim Kennedy, Bryan Lerg and Justin Abdelkader, all with over 25 points on the season. Jonathon Matsumoto’s 28 points is the Falcons’ only skater over that mark.

Tonight’s game also will have an added emotional feel to it, being senior night and Jeremy Bronson’s and James Unger’s final game at the BG Ice Arena.

“Everybody wants to end their college career on a good note,” said junior forward Brandon Svendsen. “It would be good for us to pull through for the seniors and get things done.”

As far as looking ahead to the playoffs and where the team might be traveling, BG is focusing on the games at hand this weekend.

“We’ve talked about the importance of being on the top of our game come playoffs, but all the focus is on this weekend’s games,” Paluch said. “It’s always a fun weekend when Michigan State’s around. When you go back in time there’s always been some outstanding games, some rivalry games. It’s an important series in a lot of respects for both teams.”

Tonight’s game at the Ice Arena begins at 7:05, then the Falcons will travel to East Lansing tomorrow for a 6:35 start.

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