Game Day Central
Daniels | Billins | Kane | Nelson
Big Rapids, Mich.- The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team clinched at least a share of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) regular-season title after a 4-1 win over the Bowling Green State Falcons in front of a sold out crowd at the Ewigleben Ice Arena on Saturday (Feb. 18) night in Big Rapids, Mich.
The win gives the nationally top-ranked Bulldogs a 22-8-4 overall record and a 16-6-4 conference mark. The conference championship is the first for the Bulldogs since the 2002-03 season when Ferris State was crowned the conference champions and earned their first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament bid.
The Bulldogs are on a current 14-game unbeaten streak and have not lost in the New Year with an 11-0-3 ledger in that time. It is the longest current streak in Division I college hockey.
The Falcons fell to 9-20-5 overall with a 4-18-4 stand in the conference.
Following a scoreless first period, Bulldog junior forward Matthew Kirzinger (Leroy, Saskatchewan) scored the first goal of the game on the power-play 1:36 into the second period. After getting a quick pass from senior forward Jordie Johnston (Rosetown, Saskatchewan), Kirzinger jammed the puck past the Falcon netminder. Senior defenseman Chad Billins (Marysville) also tallied an assist and has now recorded a point in each of the past 11 games.
FSU sophomore forward Cory Kane (Irvine, Calif.) scored an even-strength goal at the 12:37 mark of the second period to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. Kane got the two-on-one breakaway after receiving a pass from sophomore forward Andy Huff (Howell).
Bowling Green State got on the score sheet to cut the lead in half at the 19:08 mark of the second frame as Adam Berkle scored his fourth goal of the season. Jake Sloat and Connor Kucera tallied assists.
However, at 4:22 into the third period, Bulldog senior forward Aaron Schmit (Grafton, Wis.) tallied an even-strength goal to give the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead. Sophomore defenseman Scott Czarnowczan (Macomb) and Billins both picked up the assists on the goal.
Finally, with only 56 seconds left in the game, freshman forward TJ Schlueter (St. Louis) scored his sixth goal of the season with an empty net goal. Kirzinger and Kyle Bonis (Lindsay, Ontario) notched the assists.
The Bulldogs went 1-for-4 on the power-play and spent four minutes in the penalty box on two infractions. The Falcons were 0-for-2 with the man advantage and took four penalties for eight minutes in the box.
Senior goalie Taylor Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) made 21 saves in the tilt for Ferris State. On the other end of the ice, Bowling Green State's Andrew Hammond made 17 saves.
The Bulldogs will try to win the outright CCHA Championship next weekend as they take on Western Michigan University in a league home-and-home series. FSU currently stands six points ahead of second place Michigan and needs to gain only one more point on the Wolverines to become sole champions in the regular-season.
The action begins on Friday (Feb. 24) in Kalamazoo at Lawson Ice Arena and FS Detroit will televise the game. The two teams will then faceoff on Saturday (Feb. 25) night in the regular-season finale at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids. Both tilts have 7:05 p.m. (EDT) start times.