Central Collegiate Hockey Association foes since 1981, Michigan State is moving to the Big Ten next season and BG is heading to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. There is, however, a chance the teams will meet in the CCHA playoffs this season.
Friday’s game will be played at the BGSU Ice Arena, while Saturday’s game is in East Lansing.
The rivalry between the two teams runs back to Michigan State’s earliest days in the CCHA, when the team was coached by Ron Mason. Mason was the head coach at BG from 1973 until 1979, when he left to coach at Michigan State. He had a 160-63-6 record at BG and took the Falcons to the NCAA Tournament three times.
While current BG coach Chris Bergeron said the rivalry with Michigan State doesn’t run as deep for him as it might for others in the community, he maintained he would like to play the Spartans in non-conference games in the future.
“They’re interested in playing us; we’ve talked two-for-one,” Bergeron said, meaning BG would play two games in East Lansing and one game in Bowling Green. “They know how close we are. It almost makes no sense not to play.”
This is the second time BG and Michigan State have played each other in a home-and-home series this season.
BG defeated the Spartans, 1-0, at Munn Ice Arena on Nov. 2. It was BG’s first win in East Lansing since Feb. 24, 2007.
The following night at the BGSU Ice Arena, the Spartans dismantled the Falcons in a 6-1 win.
“We got our rear ends kicked at home,” Bergeron said. “They handed it to us and they were laughing at us, and that’s all fine. Hopefully, that burns. I would like to see a little glimmer in our eyes because of that.”
The Spartans are last in the CCHA standings with 16 points. They are four points behind 10th place Northern Michigan and nine points behind eighth place BG.
“We haven’t really spent time talking about the standings and how we can move up,” said Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos at his weekly press conference. “We’re spending time finding our game. We still have time to try and get things in order.”
The Falcons have won five straight games at home and are 6-3-1 in their past 10 games. Despite that recent success, BG is trying to achieve an even higher level of performance.
“We need to take our game to another level,” Bergeron said. “It’s not going to be long before you won’t have tomorrow.”