BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Wayne State was probably still sour over losing to Ferris State on Friday night. A couple of key miscues by the Warrior defense was all it took for Ferris to get the victory then.
Saturday, it was mistakes by Ferris State in the second period that buried the Bulldogs. Marc St. Jean scored two goals, including the game-winner, to defeat Ferris 5-4.
“I am really happy [with] my team’s effort,” Warrior coach Bill Wilkinson said. “David Guerrera was sharp when we needed him. To beat the number-12 ranked team on their home ice is a big confidence boost.”
The game began with hard-nosed play from both teams. The referees let the play go on for the most part. Aside from a rough scrum in front of the Wayne State net in the middle of the period, the teams were scoreless when the horn sounded.
The second period was huge for the Warriors. St. Jean beat goaltender Mike Brown on a four-on-three power play to take the lead, 1-0, at 2:13, but Ferris’ Greg Rallo evened the score at 9:20 while on a power play. Derek Nesbitt centered the puck and Rallo dove forward to poke the puck past Guerrera to knot the score at 1-1.
Wayne State then turned up the heat on the Bulldogs. Maxim Starchenko got the first break off a defensive miscue and beat Brown to make it 2-1 at 10:41. It took only 36 seconds for the Warriors to score again. Derek MacKay intercepted a pass and sent Tyler Kindle in one-on-one. Kindle wristed a shot that beat Brown blocker-side at 11:17 to make it 3-1.
A minute later, another defensive mistake got Billy Collins and Nick Stodgell a two-on-one opportunity. Collins went to his backhand and roofed the puck over a diving Brown to make it 4-1.
But the feisty Bulldogs refused to go away as they peppered Guerrera through the rest of the period. Troy Milam collected a pair of power-play goals on shots from the point at 13:29 and in the dying seconds at 19:43 to close the gap 4-3.
The third period was intense as chippy, rough play continued — along with inconsistent penalty-calling, which frustrated both teams.
With the game on the line, Ferris State played too rough and found itself down two men. Wayne State did not waste the opportunity as St. Jean blasted a shot that beat Brown between the legs to give the Warriors a two-goal cushion at 9:23.
Ferris would close the gap again at 14:14 when Matt York sent a slapshot that beat Guerrera the same way to make it 5-4, but that was the way the game would end. The Bulldogs kept knocking at the door, but it was the goaltending of Guerrera and the stingy Warrior defense that came through. Even with a late power play, Guerrera made key saves.
“That period of time in the second period was crucial,” Bulldog coach Bob Daniels. “We found ourselves in the hole by three goals, and that was just too much to overcome. Even in the last period, I thought we had a chance. When Wayne State got that power-play goal, it seemed to take the wind out of our sails.
“I feel we played a solid game except for that five-minute span of time in the second period where we made those mistakes. We have two key games against Western Michigan and they are a tough hockey team. We will get things back into perspective and concentrate on the next game.”
Wilkinson knew this was a big win for his club. “We have Bemidji State next week, and they will play us tough.”