ST. LOUIS, MO. - The University of Maine men's ice hockey team was defeated 4-2 by Michigan State in the NCAA Frozen Four semifinals on Friday at the Scottrade Center. Maine scored two goals in the first 3:24 of the game, but Michigan State scored the next four goals. Maine was led by Josh Soares and Keith Johnson, each with a goal and an assist, while Ben Bishop made 29 saves. The Black Bears end the season at 23-15-2.
Maine wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard as just 23 seconds into the game Keith Johnson (Windsor, Conn.) buried the Black Bears' first shot on goal. Josh Soares (Hamilton, Ontario) began the play by winning a loose puck behind the net, pushed it over to Michel Léveillé (Levis, Quebec) and Léveillé found Johnson open in the low slot for the goal. Maine took a 2-0 lead when Josh Soares scored from the top of the slot at 3:24. He was assisted on the goal by Travis Ramsey (Lakewood, Calif.) and Keith Johnson. The Spartans scored at 7:25 when Chris Mueller found his own loose rebound in the crease and pushed it past Ben Bishop (Des Peres, Mo.) for an unassisted goal. The Black Bears had the first power play chance of the night and despite keeping the puck in the Michigan State zone for over 1:30, did not convert. Michigan State had two power play chances in the last five minutes of the period, but were unable to score. Michigan State had a twelve to eleven lead on shots in the period.
In the second period, Michigan State had the early momentum with the first couple shots on net. Things evened out as the period progressed. Michel Léveillé had a shot saved by Jeff Lerg at the five minute mark, while Keith Johnson had a shot go just wide at the nine minute mark. Michigan State was able to tie the game at 16:32 when Chris Snavely scored with assists from Justin Abdelkade and Tim Kennedy. Maine had a twelve to eleven edge on shots in the second period.
The Black Bears had a second power play start just three minutes into the third period, but despite several strong chances, including one shot that hit the cross bar, Maine did not convert. Immediately after killing the penalty, Michigan State took the lead at 5:11 when Nick Sucharski scored on a loose puck just outside the crease. Matt Schepke had the initial shot on the play and Jay Sprague also had an assist. At 9:46, Michigan State added another goal as Chris Mueller fired a shot that was saved by Ben Bishop, but Jim McKenzie was able to score on the rebound. Maine pulled Ben Bishop with 1:25 left in the game, but were unable to score with the extra man.
In goal, Maine's Ben Bishop had four goals against and 29 saves. For Michigan State, Jeff Lerg had two goals against and 29 saves. Maine had four penalties for eight minutes and Michigan State had three penalties for six minutes. On power plays, Maine was 0-2 and Michigan State was 0-3. For the game, Maine was outshot by Michigan State 33 to 31.
Attendance at the Scottrade Center for the semifinal was 18,857, the second-largest crowd in semifinal history. For more information on University of Maine athletics, visit www.GoBlackBears.com or call 581-BEAR.