Ferris State Hockey Reaches Mariucci Classic Championship Game After Impressive Win Over RPI

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Big Rapids, Mich. - The nationally second-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team came back from the holiday break in a big way as the Bulldogs stormed past RPI in a 6-2 victory to advance to the championship game of the 23rd annual Mariucci Classic on Friday (Jan. 3) night in Minneapolis, Minn.

Ferris State rung in the New Year by beating the Engineers to reach the title game and will now square off against Colgate for the third time this season in the championship game of the prestigious event on Saturday (Jan. 4).

The Bulldogs will be seeking their second-ever Mariucci Classic title. The championship contest is slated for a 5 p.m. (ET) start.

Unranked Colgate reached the title contest by topping host and nationally top-ranked Minnesota in a shootout late Friday night after the two teams had battled to a 2-2 overtime tie. The shootout victory by the Raiders prevented a potential matchup between the nation's top two ranked teams in Minnesota and FSU.

Saturday's title game will be carried live by the Bulldog Sports Network and Sunny 97.3 FM with Dominic Hennig calling the play-by-play action. The online broadcast is also accessible at FerrisStateBulldogs.com

No television coverage will be available for the championship game, however it is slated to be streamed on a pay-per-view subscription basis on Gophersports.com through Gopher All-Access. All links, including live internet statistics, will be made available at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.

Ferris State and Colgate split a pair of non-league games earlier this season to open the 2013-14 campaign in Hamilton, N.Y. The Bulldogs posted a 7-4 season-opening win in the series' opener on Oct. 5 before Colgate came back to earn the weekend split with a 1-0 triumph the following night (Oct. 6).

Friday's victory pushed Ferris State's nation-leading unbeaten streak to 16 consecutive games (13-0-3) and ranks as the longest such streak in school history. The Bulldogs have not lost a game in more than two months since Oct. 18 of this season.

The Bulldogs started quickly against RPI with a pair of goals less than seven minutes into the first period of play in their first contest in 19 days. Senior forward Garrett Thompson opened the scoring with an even-strength rebound goal for his 10th marker of the year only 7:06 into the contest off assists from sophomore forward Matt Robertson and freshman defenseman Ryan Lowney.

FSU pushed the advantage to 2-0 at 13:45 of the first frame when junior Justin Buzzeo found the back of the net on a top shelf shot for his ninth goal of the campaign. Assists were credited to Thompson and Robertson on the power-play score as both picked up their second points of the night.

However, Colgate answered at 17:24 of the opening frame when Milos Bubela scored on a five-on-three advantage with a one-timer from the circle to cut the margin back to a single goal. Both Matt Neal and Jacob Laliberte earned the helpers.

Ferris State again asserted itself in the second period with a pair of goals in the first eight minutes of action to push the advantage to three goals after two periods of action.

Freshman Chad McDonald scored his fifth goal of the year for the eventual game-winner in a four-on-four situation only 7:03 into the period to make it a 3-1 game. The goal was setup by sophomore forward Kenny Babinski, who picked off the puck behind the net before McDonald ripped a shot to the top left corner.

Then, only a minute later, Robertson pushed the lead to 4-1 with his ninth goal of the year. His marker came on the power play as he played the puck off the goaltender's pads before earning the lamplighter. Sophomore defenseman Brandon Anselmini and freshman forward Kyle Schempp were credited with assists.

The Bulldogs opened the third and final period with a quick goal only 1:23 into the frame as sophomore defenseman Travis White tallied his first collegiate goal off a feed from Buzzeo and sophomore defenseman Sean O'Rourke.

The Engineers scored their final goal at 11:13 of the third period when Mike Zaleswki registered a short-handed goal via a two-on-one move to cut the lead to 5-2. His goal was setup by Chris Bradley and Guy Leboeuf, who both earned assists.

Ferris State, though, left little doubt in regards to the outcome as Robertson notched his second goal of the game on an empty-net to account for the final margin with three minutes to play. The goal was his 10th of the year and second of the night. It was assisted by sophomore Zach Dorer and Schempp. 

Robertson finished with the contest with four points on the evening while Thompson, Buzzeo and Schempp each had two points apiece.

Overall, RPI held a 34-30 edge in total shots for the night, but Ferris State junior goaltender CJ Motte made 32 saves in improving his nation-leading mark to 15-0-3 on the season between the pipes. Motte made 10 saves in the opening period before stopping 11 shots in each of the final two periods of action.

The loss went to RPI's Scott Diebold, who made 24 saves and allowed five goals in 57:39 of action.

Ferris State capitalized twice in five opportunities with the man-advantage while the Engineers finished one-of-five for the game.  Both teams were called for six penalties totaling 12 minutes in the box.

The Bulldogs improved to 15-2-3 overall mark to date this year with the victory. FSU's 15 wins are the most in the country and the Bulldogs also have the nation's best winning percentage in addition to the longest unbeaten streak. Ferris State is first in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings with a 10-0-2 league record and has yet to drop a league game in its debut season in the WCHA. 

Friday's win over Rensselaer came over a Ferris State alum in former goaltender and current RPI head coach Seth Appert. It was FSU's third win in five meetings between the two teams over the past three seasons.

Ferris State, which is making its fifth-ever appearance in the Mariucci Classic, will seek its second title on Saturday night. The Bulldogs previously won the event in 1992-93 and also made appearances in one of the nation's most prestigious events in 2001-02, 2006-07 and 2010-11.

Following the Mariucci Classic, Ferris State returns to home ice on Jan. 10-11 as the Bulldogs resume WCHA action and fans will be treated to a special guest appearance from one of hockey's all-time greats.

Former Detroit Red Wings' standout Darren McCarty will make a special appearance and be in attendance for the series' opener on Friday (Jan. 10) evening against the Michigan Tech Huskies for a book signing and autograph session to promote his new book "My Last Fight: The True Story of a Hockey Rock Star".

The puck is set to drop on both Friday and Saturday nights at 7:07 p.m. (ET) as the Bulldogs square off against the Huskies for the first time since 1995 as part of what many expect will be one of the top WCHA rivalries in years to come.

In addition to McCarty's special appearance, the Bulldogs will also hold a special "Dawg Pound Appreciation Night" on Friday, Jan. 10, that will include giveaways, a free postgame skate with Brutus, raffle prizes and more. The Ferris State University residence halls will be open for the weekend series.

Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance as sellout crowds are expected for the Bulldogs' first home action since mid-November. 

Fans can purchase advance tickets for the Michigan Tech series and save over the normal gameday rates by visiting the FSU Athletics Ticket Office located inside the Ewigleben Sports Complex. Bulldog fans can also purchase all regular-priced tickets in advance 24 hours a day, seven days a week online at StarTickets.com or by calling 1-800-585-3737.

A complete pricing structure, holiday ticket office hours and additional information is available online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com and can be found by visiting the "tickets" tab. All promotional ticket offers are only available in advance thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office. For additional ticket information, please call (231) 591-2888.

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