BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Two weeks ago, Ferris State controlled sixth place as well as its own destiny when it came to home ice in the CCHA playoffs. Four losses later, the Bulldogs are just trying to right the ship before the end of the season. Saturday, Western Michigan didn’t help Ferris’ cause, as Shaun Rose netted two goals and goaltender Jeff Reynaert stopped 38 shots in a 5-3 victory.
“At this point in the season, your key players have to step up and take command. Jeff is one of the reasons why we won tonight,” Western Michigan coach Jim Culhane said. “I feel that these games could have gone either way. I am glad we came out with four points.”
Western Michigan got on the board in the first period on a power play opportunity. Patrick Dwyer took the shot from the point that rebounded off the boards and right to Jeff Campbell. Ferris State goaltender John DeCaro was caught out of position for the shot by Campbell to make it 1-0 at 16:13.
Rose added a goal less than two minutes later off a beautiful individual effort. Making his way past a Bulldog defender, Rose wristed the puck upstairs on DeCaro to make it 2-0 at 17:39.
Ferris State came out with more life in the second period. Numerous chances were turned away by the goaltending of Reynaert. At 12:51, the pressure paid off. Chris Kunitz rifled a slapshot upstairs on the sprawling goaltender to make it 2-1.
Matt York chipped in a goal of his own at 14:23. Kristian Schroder passed the puck back to York, who broke in and scored to tie the game at 2-2. Just as the puck went into the net, York raised his arms into the air and that is when a Bronco defender cross-checked him into the boards. The teams converged and punches were thrown. Ferris State was awarded a five-minute power play.
“I will let the league look at that hit and decide for themselves. The puck was already in the net and the play was over,” Daniels said.
The Bulldogs didn’t waste the opportunity. Kunitz netted his second goal of the game by skating in and slapping the puck past Reynaert to make it 3-2 at 15:46. Ferris State and the home crowd seemed to rally back. However, it was Pat Dwyer who tied the game back up during a four on four situation. Dwyer deked past a Bulldog defender and fired the puck off DeCaro’s glove and into the net at 17:42 to make it 3-3.
“At that point we knew it was a 20-minute hockey game and anything could happen,” Culhane said. “The team knew what it had to do.”
Behind the strong goaltending of Reynaert, David Cousineau gave the Broncos the lead at 4:49. With the Bulldogs scurrying around in their own zone, the puck came to Cousineau, who took a slapshot that handcuffed DeCaro and slid under his pads into the net to make it 4-3.
Rose added an insurance goal off a deflection at 14:52.
“John DeCaro isn’t playing to the form he was playing at the beginning of the season,” Daniels said. “I thought we played very well today, but there were a few goals I thought John should have had.”
Culhane was pleased about the effort over the weekend, but expressed that the job isn’t done yet. “We have to find a way to win against the University of Michigan before we start thinking about home ice advantage in the playoffs.”
Ferris State plays Michigan State in its last regular season home game next Friday while Western Michigan plays Michigan in a home and home series.