Big Rapids, Mich. - The nationally 14th-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team opened Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) play with a 4-2 victory over 10th-ranked Miami (Ohio) on Friday (Oct. 21) night at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids.
The Bulldogs received two goals from junior right wing Eric Alexander (Kentwood) in capturing the conference-opening tilt.
With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 5-0-0 overall, which is the program's best season start since opening with eight consecutive wins in its initial season of CCHA play in the 1979-80 campaign.
The RedHawks dropped to 2-3-0 overall following their first CCHA tilt of the year as well.
Alexander tallied the first goal of the game just 3:41 into the first period. His power-play goal started in the Ferris State zone as sophomore defenseman Scott Czarnowczan (Macomb) fed the puck to center ice where senior defenseman Chad Billins (Marysville) passed to Alexander through the neutral zone before the shot from the top of the circle over the Miami goaltender's shoulder.
With 2:39 left in the first period, the RedHawks scored an even-strength goal off the stick of Trent Vogelhuber to tie up the game at 1-1 going into the second period.
Freshman right wing TJ Schlueter (Lafayette, Ind.) gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 advantage at the 3:25 mark of the second period on his second goal of the campaign. Alexander passed the puck behind the Miami net to junior center Travis Ouellette (Windsor, Ontario) and then onto Schlueter near the crease where he jabbed it past the Miami netminder.
Miami would tie it again at the 6:31 mark in the second when Auston Czarnik scored a power-play goal.
Senior forward Jordie Johnston (Rosetown, Saskatchewan) scored the game-winning goal 6:19 into the third period for the Bulldogs. It marked Johnston's second goal of the season with the assist going to junior Matthew Kirzinger (Leroy, Saskatchewan), who tallied his fourth helper on the season.
Alexander scored his second goal of the night and secured the Bulldog win with 35 seconds left in regulation time as Ouellette won the faceoff in the Ferris zone. Alexander shot the puck from the red line thru a aping gap between the Miami defense.
Bulldog senior goaltender Taylor Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) earned the win as he improved to 3-0-0 overall this year. Nelson saved 26 shots on goal with 12 coming in the third period. Miami netminder Cody Reichard took the loss and dropped to 1-2-0 on the season despite making 21 saves in the tilt with 10 coming in the first period.
Ferris State went 2-for-5 on the power-play and the penalty kill unit stopped all five Miami power-play tries. Miami held a 28-to-25 overall advantage in shots on the night.
With Ouellette's two assists, he now leads the Bulldogs in points this season with seven (5-2-7) on the year. Alexander had three points this game, whichmarked a personal-career high showing in a single game for the junior forward.
Ferris State and Miami (Ohio) will battle again Saturday (Oct. 22) to conclude the two-game series at the Ewigleben Ice Arena. The puck is slated to drop at 7:05 p.m. (EDT).