Big Rapids, Mich. - For the second time in three years, the Ferris State University men's ice hockey team has claimed a conference regular-season championship.
The Bulldogs posted a 2-1 triumph over Lake Superior State in the regular-season finale on Saturday (March 8) evening before an announced crowd of 2,551 fans inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena to claim the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Regular-Season crown.
The victory came on "Senior Night" as the Bulldogs honored five seniors in captain Scott Czarnowczan along with forwards Justin DeMartino, Andy Huff, Cory Kane and Garrett Thompson prior to their final collegiate regular-season home game. The senior class provided the early spark and accounted for all of FSU's scoring in helping the Bulldogs to the win.
Senior Garrett Thompson struck early in the opening stanza for the Bulldogs with his 15th goal of the year only 1:03 into the game off a feed from fellow senior captain Scott Czarnowczan. That helped set the tone for the night as the Bulldogs took the early 1-0 lead. Thompson's marker came on a whistler to the glove side from the right circle on an early 4-on-3 Bulldog power play.
Czarnowczan then found the back of the net himself for the Bulldogs' second goal less than a minute later at 1:54 of the opening frame off an assist from senior forward Justin DeMartino. The goal was Czarnowczan's fifth of the year and proved to be the eventual game-winner on a shot that went five-hole across the goal line.
However, Lake Superior State trimmed the margin to 2-1 only 29 seconds in the second stanza on Colin Campbell's 14th goal this season in unassisted fashion, but the Lakers could get no closer as the Bulldogs shut the door.
LSSU entered the contest needing a win to reach the league's postseason tournament while the Bulldogs were playing for a league crown. With the win, the Bulldogs moved in front of Minnesota State in the league standings and claimed the outright crown after the Mavericks battled to a tie with Michigan Tech.
FSU finished the season with 42 league points to only 41 for the Mavericks en route to the MacNaughton Cup.
Czarnowczan picked up the game's first star by virtue of his two-point night while Thompson claimed the second star and junior goaltender CJ Motte was the third star of the night. Motte made 24 saves in moving to 24-7-3 on the season.
Ferris State held a 31-25 edge in total shots and the Bulldogs finished one-of-three on the power play for the game while holding LSSU off the board in three tries with the man-advantage. Both teams were called for four penalties totaling eight minutes in the box.
With the victory, the Bulldogs moved to 25-9-3 overall this season and finished with a 20-6-2 league record. The 25 total wins to date represent the fourth-most in a single season in school history.
On a night in which the Bulldogs honored and recognized its five-member senior class, FSU recorded its 85th win over the last four years. The total for this year's senior class represents the best four-year stretch in school history.
Ferris State will be the first seed for the WCHA Playoffs and host Bemidji State in a first-round series next weekend, March 14-16, inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena. Games one and two are Friday and Saturday at 7:07 p.m. (ET) with the deciding third game on Sunday set for 5:07 p.m. (ET) if necessary.
Tickets for the first-round series can be purchased in advance thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office located inside the Ewigleben Sports Complex, online at StarTickets.com or by calling 1-800-585-3737. For more information, please visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com or call (231) 591-2888. The ticket office is open Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET).
The winner of next weekend's first-round playoff series will advance to the WCHA Championship set for March 21-22 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.