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Friday, March 16, 2001
Updated: March 17, 9:59 PM ET
Bowling Green's run ends in semifinals

Associated Press

DETROIT – Michigan State's Ryan Miller showed Friday why he's one of the best college hockey goalies in the nation.

Michigan State coach Ron Mason concurred with Powers.

"We had to call on Ryan to make some unbelievable saves in the last five minutes," said Michigan State coach Ron Mason after Michigan State beat Bowling Green 2-1 on Friday in the semifinal round of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association tournament.

"We might have tried to play too defensive in the third period. We were waiting for chances instead of creating them."

While Miller protected the slim lead, senior forward Sean Patchell provided it with his sixth and seventh goals of the season.

"I was fortunate," said Patchell, who also scored the winning goal in Michigan State's 3-2 overtime victory against Alaska Fairbanks in the first round of the playoffs. "I was in the right place at the right time."

The victory moves the Spartans (31-4-4) into Saturday's championship game against the winner of the Michigan-Nebraska Omaha semifinal. Michigan State will be seeking a record 10th conference playoff title.

Bowling Green, which became the lowest seed in CCHA history to earn a berth in the semifinals, finished the season with a 16-19-5 record. The Falcons, who were ninth during the regular season, upset No. 2 seed Miami in the first round and beat No. 5 seed Northern Michigan 2-1 in overtime in a play-in game last Tuesday.

"We had close games a lot of times this year, but it was just at the end of the season that we started to get some puck luck – and you need some of that to be successful," said Bowling Green coach Buddy Powers.

Michigan State, which won the CCHA regular-season championship with a 21-4-3 record, took a 2-1 lead into the third period after Patchell's second goal of the game with 4:04 remaining in the second period.

Patchell took a pass from Troy Ferguson, maintained control of it with his skates and beat goalie Tyler Masters with a high wrist shot from between the faceoff circles.

Bowling Green applied pressure in the third period, forcing Miller to make 16 of his 28 saves in the period.

Patchell tied the game on a power-play goal with 38 seconds left in the first period. John-Michael Liles shot came off the boards to Patchell, who lifted the puck over Masters from the edge of the crease.

Bowling Green defenseman Kevin Bieksa broke a scoreless tie at 16:36 of the first period. He intercepted a clearing pass by the Spartans and fired a quick shot from the high slot that beat Miller before he could recover after being bumped by the Falcons' Ryan Wetterberg.

"I thought that in the second period we really established ourselves," Mason said. "Maybe the fact that they scored first picked us up."