ANN ARBOR, Mich. — After Michigan defeated Ferris State 3-2 on Saturday night, both teams walked away from the weekend series with one victory. Yet both apparently have the same task ahead of them. Michigan coach Red Berenson and Ferris State coach Bob Daniels each said his team has some “soul searching” to do.
The Bulldogs, CCHA champs last year, lost four straight heading into this weekend, and are still trying to get to .500. The Wolverines, whose overtime loss Friday in Big Rapids dropped them to 1-2 on the road, expected to play better against the struggling Bulldogs this weekend.
Early in the third Saturday night, with the game tied, 2-2, Jeff Tambellini put the Wolverines to stay. Brandon Rogers and David Moss each earned their second point of the night on Tambellini’s ninth goal. No other Michigan player has scored more than four.
Michigan still led 3-2 when Ferris State pulled goalie Mike Brown and a frantic final 1:26 ensued. Al Montoya, who finished with 21 saves, had to make several stops for Michigan to keep the game out of overtime.
“Every single night [Montoya] is going to keep us in the game,” Rogers said. “He did it last night and tonight, especially if you look at that scum at the end. The last minute-and-a half, he was out there battling and bailing us out a few times.”
Michigan took the early lead, and Ferris State was left playing catch-up all night.
Milan Gajic one-timed a shot past Brown at 5:27 of the first period. The Bulldogs tied it up with a pinball goal just 33 seconds later. Greg Rallo tipped a Jeff Legue shot into the left post, and the puck kicked to the right, behind Montoya.
The second period went much the same as the first — the Wolverines surged ahead and the Bulldogs reeled them back in.
Rogers put Michigan up 2-1 at 5:20, but Carter Thompson answered at 14:18.
Ferris State juniors Legue and Derek Nesbitt both recorded an assist Saturday, and Daniels said their offensive contribution was one of several positive signs he has seen.
After getting blown out 8-0 by Michigan State on Oct. 31, Ferris State has played three close games.
“The last three games it wasn’t so much about … playing anyone in particular, it was more about, we had to find ourselves a little bit,” Daniels said. “It didn’t really matter who we were playing, we just needed to improve. Our play was sub-par, and we had lost a lot of confidence, I think.
“We always play pretty well against Michigan, but the reality is we need to do a little bit of soul searching and find out if we’re going to be a pretty good team or if we’re just going to roll over.”
While Daniels said the Bulldogs took “steps in the right direction” this weekend, Berenson wasn’t happy with where his team seemed to be headed.
“This was not a big step forward for our team,” the Michigan coach said.
The Wolverines scored all three of their goals while on the power play Saturday, and Berenson said that was the bright spot.
“The power play’s been our salvation, really,” Berenson said. “The best part of our offense, maybe the only part of our offense, has been our power play of late.”
The Wolverines have notched power-play goals in all nine games.
Michigan played Saturday without senior captain Andy Burnes, who separated his collarbone from his sternum during the final shift the night before. Berenson said he wasn’t sure how long the defenseman would be out, but he estimated one to two weeks.