Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team opened its final Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) regular-season series against the Michigan State Spartans with an exciting 2-1 win on Friday (Jan. 18) night at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing before a sellout crowd of 6,011 fans and a nationwide television audience.
The victory was the fourth in the last five contests for the Bulldogs, who will host the Spartans to wrap up the league home-and-home series on Saturday night (Jan. 19) at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids. The game was televised live by Fox Sports Detroit and simulcast across the country by several cable and satellite providers on various channels.
Ferris State struck first 9:38 into the opening period as junior center Cory Kane recorded his sixth goal of the season off an assist from sophomore defenseman Jason Binkley, who notched his 11th helper of the campaign. Kane slid the puck through the goaltender's kneepads from the top of the slot between the two faceoff circles after Binkley had intercepted a Spartan turnover.
However, the Spartans answered a little over a minute later when Ryan Keller scored his first goal of the year off a feed from both Matt Berry and Justin Hoomaian at 10:46 of the first period. Keller scored from the top of the slot between the two faceoff circles.
The score stood up until early in the third period as the two teams went scoreless in the second stanza behind solid goaltending on both sides.
FSU earned the game-winner only 2:56 into the final period when the Bulldogs' top line of seniors Kyle Bonis and Travis Ouellette along with junior Garrett Thompson combined to push the advantage to 2-1 in favor of Ferris State. Bonis fed Thompson on a give and go, before Thompson backhanded the puck to Ouellette for the shot at the bottom of the left circle, which slipped in past MSU netminder Jake Hildebrand.
The Bulldogs had to kill off a penalty late in the final period and then withstood a potential game-tying shot in the closing seconds as sophomore goaltender CJ Motte came up with a huge save to ice the win for Ferris State. He also made a pair of third-period saves after losing his stick on a play behind the net.
FSU tallied 35 shots on the night to 28 for the Spartans, which included a decided 19-8 advantage in the opening period.
Neither team was able to capitalize on the power play in the contest as the Spartans were held in check on three tries and Ferris State also failed to convert on three opportunities with the man-advantage. Both teams were called for six penalties each totaling 12 minutes.
Motte totaled 27 saves in picking up the victory in net for the Bulldogs while Hildebrand suffered the loss on the MSU side despite coming up with 33 saves.
Friday's win was Ferris State's seventh victory in the last nine matchups against the Spartans, including FSU's second in three tries this season. The Bulldogs have won two-straight versus MSU heading into Saturday's fourth and final meeting of the year and were able to avenge an earlier 3-1 setback this season versus Michigan State at Munn Ice Arena (Dec. 15).
With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 11-9-3 overall this season and now own a 9-7-1 in CCHA action with 28 points in the league standings. MSU fell to 6-14-3 overall and 5-11-1 in conference play.
Ferris State's win lifted the Bulldogs into sole possession of fourth place in the league standings and FSU is now only five points behind league leader Notre Dame heading into Saturday's action.
The two teams will square off on Saturday night in Big Rapids in the final meeting of the year with the puck drop set for 7:05 p.m. (ET). The contest is officially sold out.
With the sellout, Ferris Television has announced plans to carry Saturday's contest between the Ferris State Bulldogs and the Michigan State Spartans live from inside the sold out Ewigleben Ice Arena. The contest can be watched live locally via Charter Cable on channel 97 in Mecosta County or on channel 22 on the FSU campus. In addition, the live feed will also be streamed on a pay-per-view basis worldwide by the Bulldog Sports Network at FerrisStateBulldogs.com. Several local establishments throughout the Big Rapids area have also announced tentative plans to carry the game live.
Dominic Hennig and Dan Kowalski will call the action and an audio broadcast will also be carried online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com along with local flagship station Sunny 97.3 FM starting with the Bush Insurance Pregame Show at 6:30 p.m.
Overall, the Bulldogs have currently drawn more than 2,000 fans for each of its last five home contests this campaign with three sellouts. FSU also sold out five of its final six regular-season home contests during the historic 2011-12 season.
While Saturday's home tilt is sold out, tickets remain on sale for the Bulldogs' final two regular-season home series' against Western Michigan (Feb. 1-2) and Bowling Green State (Feb. 15-16). Please call (231) 591-2888 for more information or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com for a complete pricing structure and ticket specials. Tickets can also be bought online at StarTickets.com.