(Photo courtesy Al Larson Photo)
Big Rapids, Mich.- The nationally 19th-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team recorded one of its most decisive wins of the season by virtue of a 6-2 victory over unranked Minnesota-Duluth in a non-league matchup to conclude the Florida College Hockey Classic on Saturday (Dec. 29) at Germain Arena in Estero, Fla.
Ferris State, which fell to 11th-ranked Cornell in a close 5-3 contest to open the two-day event on Friday, took the third place game by scoring the final five goals against UMD in a "Battle Of The Bulldogs" matchup.
The victory was Ferris State's first-ever triumph against Minnesota-Duluth, which won the national championship only two seasons ago. The two teams had faced off five times previously, but Saturday's meeting was the first since 1995.
FSU notched the first goal of the evening only 7:08 into play in the first period when sophomore wing Justin Buzzeo scored his third goal of the season from the right side of the crease after the puck hit the goaltender and bounced back. Sophomore center Dom Panetta recorded his first assist of the season on a pass to Buzzeo following a faceoff.
Minnesota-Duluth responded by scoring two consecutive goals to take a quick 2-1 lead. Adam Krause recorded UMD's first goal when he fired a shot from the right point while sliding the puck through FSU freshman goaltender Charles Williams' pads at the 16:27 minute mark of the opening stanza. Wade Bergman and Charlie Sampair received the assists.
Then, exactly 30 seconds later, Caleb Hebert made the score 2-1 in favor of UMD when he received a pass from Joe Basaraba and scored the first power-play goal of the evening from the left corner by notching the puck around Williams' right shoulder. The initial pass was made by Drew Olson, which allowed Duluth to take a 2-1 lead following the opening period.
The Bulldogs answered back, though, with a big second period. Junior center Cory Kane tied the game at 2-2 on a short-handed goal after the puck bounced back to him from the left post early in the second period at 4:58. He received the pass from sophomore defenseman Simon Denis, who picked up his eighth assist of the campaign. The lamplighter was Kane's fifth of the season.
FSU tacked on two more goals in the final minute of the second period to grab a 4-2 advantage following 40 minutes of action. Ferris State took a 3-2 lead when senior center Eric Alexander notched his fourth goal of the season from between the two circles with 43.7 seconds left on the clock. Junior wing Andy Huff earned his second assist of the year.
Then, just 22 seconds later at 19:38, freshman defenseman Brandon Anselmini ended the second period scoring when he tallied his third goal of the season after senior forward Travis Ouellette and senior wing Kyle Bonis passed the puck, earning their eighth and sixth assists, respectively.
The contest remained 4-2 for a majority of the final period until Bonis scored his ninth goal of the season on the power-play at 15:48 after he received the puck from junior defenseman Scott Czarnowczan along with senior forward Garrett Thompson.
Junior wing Justin DeMartino then sealed the 6-2 victory for FSU when he notched his fourth goal of the season on the power-play with 1:51 to go in the final frame. Huff registered his second assist of the night when he passed the puck to freshman center Kenny Babinski, who then earned his second assist of the season when he made the pass to DeMartino.
Williams played the entire 60 minutes and totaled 23 saves in his first collegiate start for Ferris State. UMD goaltender Matt McNeely played 40 minutes and made 16 saves while Aaron Crandall played the remaining 20 minutes while totaling four saves. FSU led the shots by a slim count of 26-25 over UMD.
FSU had five penalties on the night for a total of 20 minutes and UMD had five penalties totaling 23 minutes. Ferris State was able to convert on two out of five power-play opportunities while UMD found the back of the net on one out of five power-play tries.
With the victory, Ferris State snapped a four-game losing skid and improved to 8-8-3 overall on the season. Meanwhile, UMD dropped to 7-10-3 overall and is midst its final season in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).
The competitive Florida College Hockey Classic field featured four teams that participated in the NCAA Tournament a season ago, including national finalist Ferris State, Minnesota-Duluth, Maine and Cornell. The four-team classic was played at the home of professional hockey's Florida Everblades and it marked the Bulldogs' first-ever appearance in the event.
Ferris State will return home and resume Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) play against Michigan State on Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids. Faceoff is set for 5:05 p.m. (ET) and tickets are currently on sale now. Please call (231) 591-2888 for more information or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com. Tickets can also be bought online at StarTickets.com.