Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team closed its final Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) regular-season series against nationally sixth-ranked Western Michigan with a 2-1 shootout win following an overtime tie in an action-filled contest on Saturday (Feb. 2) night at the Ewigleben Ice Arena.
The two teams combined for 33 penalties and 115 penalty minutes in a battle that raged on throughout the night before a sold out crowd of 2,537 fans in the series finale in Big Rapids. Sixteen infractions were called in the third period alone and three players were disqualified from the contest in a heated battle that resulted in a 2-2 overtime deadlock.
The Bulldogs struck first on the scoreboard in the opening period as senior wing Matt Kirzinger notched his first goal of the season on a slap shot from the center of the blue line for a power-play marker at 14:47 of the first stanza. Sophomore defenseman Simon Denis made the initial pass from the right side to freshman defenseman Brandon Anselmini on the left, who moved the puck to Kirzinger's stick at the center.
After a scoreless second period, play was stopped for several minutes only 3:28 into the final frame as officials sorted out a handful of penalties following a brawl on the ice involving multiple players from both sides.
Following the stoppage, the Broncos scored two quick goals to grab a 2-1 lead with the two markers coming less than a minutes apart in the final frame.
Western Michigan's Dennis Brown tied the game at a goal apiece when he scored the Broncos' first goal of the evening from the crease at 5:06 of the third period on a five-on-three power play after receiving the puck from Kenney Morrison, who initially received the puck off a feed from Chase Balisy.
Then, less than 30 seconds later at 5:29, Mike Leone put the puck past Bulldog sophomore goaltender CJ Motte's left glove from the bottom of the left center to give the Broncos a quick 2-1 lead. It also came on the power play following the penalty stoppage as Colton Hargrove earned his second point of the weekend by making the pass to Leone.
The 2-1 lead stood up for nearly the entire duration remaining in the third period, but Ferris State senior wing Kyle Bonis was not to be denied. He pushed the contest into overtime as he tied the game back up at 2-2 by scoring his 14th goal of the season from the bottom of the left circle with only 42 seconds remaining in regulation. Sophomore defenseman Jason Binkley shot the puck on net from the right point to earn his 16th helper of the season after receiving the puck from junior wing Garrett Thompson, who registered his 12th assist this campaign. It came with an extra attacker as the Bulldogs scored after pulling Motte from goal.
After neither team could find the back of the net in the five-minute sudden death overtime, the game advanced to a shootout. Leone struck first for Western Michigan by putting the puck past Motte. However, junior Cory Kane responded as the Bulldogs' first shooter to tie it up. Balisy could not find the back of the net on Western Michigan's second try and Bonis followed with a goal for the Bulldogs. On WMU's final try, Motte came up with the save on Shane Berschbach's attempt as Ferris State picked up the extra point in the league standings.
Motte registered 23 saves on the night in 64:40 between the pipes while Frank Slubowski played for the entire 65 minutes and made 25 saves on the night for the Broncos. Ferris State led the shots for the night by a slim 27-25 margin.
FSU was called for 17 penalties for a total of 64 minutes and WMU had 16 penalties for a total of 51 minutes. The Bulldogs converted on one out of nine power-play opportunities while the Broncos found the back of the net on two out of eight man-advantages.
With the shootout, the Bulldogs improved to 13-11-4 overall and now hold a 11-9-2-1 record in the CCHA. Meanwhile, the Broncos are now 17-6-5 overall along with 13-4-3-1 in the CCHA.
This weekend marked the final regular-season matchup between the two West Michigan rivals as FSU departs for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) and WMU moves to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) next campaign. It was also the last of four hotly-contested regular-season matchups between the foes this season.
With the two points on the night, Ferris State held onto fourth place in the league standings as the Bulldogs now have 36 points. Miami (Ohio) moved past WMU for first place with 44 points followed by the Broncos with 43 and Notre Dame with 38 points on the year to date.
The Bulldogs will be back in action next weekend (Feb. 8-9) as they travel to the Barry Events Center in Marquette to take on the Northern Michigan Wildcats for the final time in CCHA regular-season action. The puck is set to drop at 7:35 p.m. (ET) both nights.
Tickets are currently on sale for the Bulldogs' final regular-season home contests in two weeks (Feb. 15-16) against Bowling Green State in Big Rapids. The BGSU series will represent the Bulldogs' final two CCHA regular-season games at home and the final contest on Feb. 16 will serve as FSU's annual "Senior Night" game with Fox Sports Detroit set to broadcast the contest live as part of "Hockey Day In Michigan" coverage beginning at 5:05 p.m. (ET).
Tickets can be purchased by calling (231) 591-2888 or online at StarTickets.com. They can also be bought by calling 1-800-585-3737 or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com for more information.