BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Ferris State’s special teams put Michigan into an early hole with two shorthanded goals, and the Bulldog defense kept the Wolverines there to earn a 5-4 victory.
“It was good to beat the No. 3 ranked team in the nation, and get our first league win,” Bulldog Chris Kunitz said.
Rob Collins got the first goal with 11 seconds left in a Wolverine power play. Kevin Swider intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and passed it up to Collins, who shot the puck over the glove of Josh Blackburn to give Ferris a 1-0 lead at 3:48 of the first period. Ferris continued its aggressive penalty killing by scoring shorthanded again at 9:11, when Bowers shot a bouncing puck past Blackburn at 9:11 for a 2-0 lead.
Trevor Large kept Ferris rolling by scoring on a backhand shot over the leg pad of Blackburn to make it 3-0 at 13:48. The Wolverines struck back a minute later, as Craig Murray put the puck past Vince Owen to make it 3-1.
The Bulldogs kept the pressure up on the power play in the second period. Collins’ shot from the point was deflected by Swider past Blackburn at 5:53 to make it 4-1, and Derrick McIver made it a 5-1 game when he lured Blackburn out of the net and shot the puck past the sprawling goalie at 10:36.
Kevin O’Malley came in to replace Blackburn after that goal, and his teammates responded as the Wolverines’ Mark Mink stuffed home a rebound that trickled behind Owen at 18:55 to make it 5-2.
The Wolverines then came out with a excellent effort in the third period. Mink scored his second of the night on the power play at 5:50 to make it 5-3, and an apparent goal by Ferris in the 14th minute while on the power play was called back due to the net’s dislodgment.
“I don’t understand why that goal was called off,” Ferris head coach Bob Daniels said. “It looked like the puck crossed the goal line before our man took the net off its moorings.”
Michigan continued its offensive onslaught against Owen, and the pressure finally paid off at 18:52 with O’Malley on the bench for the extra attacker. Owen made an initial save, but Andy Hilbert was on the doorstep to put the puck past Owen just before the net came off the pegs to make it 5-4.
After that, Owen made three outstanding saves to preserve the lead and the win for Ferris State.
After the horn sounded to end the game the action continued, as several players from both sides got into it near the Michigan bench. Gloves and sticks littered the ice almost instantly as the benches cleared. The players grabbed each other, and punches were thrown, with the main event consisting of O’Malley charging over to attack Owen.
After the two goalies were separated by the referees, they came back together to fight again, for which Owen and O’Malley were both ejected and given game disqualifications.
“Losing Owen to a one-game suspension really hurts,” Daniels said. “[Backup goaltender] Phil Osaer should be set to play though. It will depend on how his knee reacts through these next two weeks of practice.”
“I don’t know how it all started, but after the game ended I saw the teams start to grab each other near the Michigan bench,” Owen said.
“It always seems to turn physical when we play Michigan here at home and win,” Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said after the game. “You never want to see [the fighting], but it was good to get the win tonight, though. Our team is really coming together well.”
Although some calls were questionable on Friday, Daniels thought the game was more even tonight. “I thought we played good hockey today. The penalties we took were necessary to nullify Michigan’s scoring chances. Our penalty killing was superb tonight. The two shorthanded goals in the first period really gave us a boost.”
Ferris State is off next weekend, while the Wolverines will host Alaska-Fairbanks for a pair.