KALAMAZOO, Mich. — There’s something about playing Ferris State that brings out the best in Western Michigan sophomore forward Dana Lattery.
Lattery continued his torrid pace Friday by tallying two goals, including the game- winner, and an assist to help lead No. 15 WMU past the Bulldogs 5-3.
The Cochrane, Alberta, native has scored five goals in two games against Ferris, including a natural hat trick in a 6-3 Bronco victory in the consolation game of the Mariucci Classic. Lattery has scored nine goals, including four game-winners, in his last ten contests.
When asked about the play of Lattery, WMU head coach Jim Culhane gave the credit to his whole club.
“I think a lot of guys had good games for us. Our penalty kill did a nice job for us, the goals that they got tonight were three even-strength goals, and they had a number of chances on the power play. The real difference for us was on the special teams. We were able to keep them off the board on the power play. You talk about Kunitz and Collins out there on that power play; they have two real good, skilled players, and we were fortunately able to keep the puck out of our net there.
“We still gave up some chances though. The goals that they got were some errors on our part that we need to clean up.”
Ferris senior forward Rob Collins scored his 15th goal of the season and freshman goaltender John DeCaro made 21 saves in defeat.
“I’m disappointed we lost,” said Ferris head coach Bob Daniels. “I think we played a good enough hockey game to win, but not a good enough hockey game to guarantee a win. I thought we played pretty well, we generated a lot of chances, Reynaert came out with a huge save there in the third, but I can’t say any more. Like I said, I think the key was we played well enough to win, but not well enough to guarantee a victory.”
The Bulldogs took the lead 32 seconds into the game when freshman forward Jeff Legue sneaked into the slot and one-timed a pass from freshman Derek Nesbitt past WMU goaltender Jeff Reynaert to put Ferris up 1-0.
WMU sophomore Paul Davies’ hustle paid off as the forward created a two-on-one while shorthanded before taking a pass from senior co-captain Mike Bishai before blowing it past DeCaro stick-side at 9:37 to even the score at 1-1.
Lattery tallied the first of his two goals shortly after the Davies goal at 11:11 of the first period when the forward deflected a backhand shot off DeCaro and into the net to give the Broncos a 2-1 lead.
WMU freshman forward Pat Dwyer’s power-play goal gave the Broncos a two-goal lead early in the second period at 1:11 when he found the puck among a sea of bodies in front of the Ferris net, and beat a screened DeCaro to put the Broncos up 3-1.
Thirty-six seconds later at 1:47 of the second period, Ferris finally tallied after allowing three unanswered goals when junior forward Phil Meyer put a shot past Reynaert stick-side to cut the WMU lead to 3-2.
The Bulldogs tied the game at three goals each when Collins, from behind the Bronco net, fed junior forward Chris Kunitz, who put the puck in top-shelf from the slot at 11:57 of the second period.
A glimpse of offensive genius from WMU senior defenseman Austin Miller and flat-
footed defense from the Bulldogs allowed Lattery to score the game-winning goal at 17:51 of the second period. Miller skated untouched through the Ferris defense before finding Lattery all alone in front of DeCaro to put WMU up 4-3.
WMU forward Lucas Drake’s empty-netter with 24 seconds remaining iced the game for the Broncos at 5-3.
Culhane spoke about the physical play between the two schools, play which included many penalties taken after the whistle.
“There’s a lot at stake, here. There’s a lot of emotion and a lot of intensity out there, and you just have to keep your emotions in check. I think both teams played real hard, it’s playoff hockey and at times you might take a penalty you wish you didn’t, but I think both teams handled it very well.”
The two teams meet again Saturday in Big Rapids to end their two game series.