EAST LANSING, Mich. — Ferris State capitalized on a two-man advantage early in the third period to break a 1-1 deadlock, and held on to win by a 2-1 score against Michigan State on Tuesday.
Six minutes into the final frame, penalties on MSU’s Jim McKenzie and Corey Potter set the Bulldogs up with a golden opportunity to win the game. The Spartans managed to kill the first penalty, but as soon as the fourth man got back on the ice Dan Riedel blasted a slapshot from the top of the left circle for the eventual game-winner.
“State got the man out, but what helped was that he was not fully engaged,” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels. “He was just coming off the bench, and some of the guys were really tired, they had been on the ice for a long time.”
Michigan State failed to clear the puck during the advantage, which lasted a minute and twenty-two seconds.
After getting the score, the Bulldogs clogged the middle of the ice and refused to allow a quality scoring chance.
“It was so hard to get the puck through. It was hard to get the pucks along the boards. It was hard to get the loose pucks in front,” said MSU coach Rick Comley.
Blame it on the off-beat Tuesday scheduling or a grueling 3 games in 5 days, but neither team seemed to have any jump.
“It looked like a slow game to me,” said Daniels. “Both teams look fatigued.but we just played two hard games against Lake Superior and MSU just flew back from two tough games in Omaha. I think that lent itself to a weary looking game, and that’s why goalscoring was down. When you are tired or you don’t have a lot of energy it affects your ability to play offense.”
“Tuesday scheduling is very destructive for a team,” said Comley. “Certainly it was not our A-game by any means, a frustrating game, but don’t take any credit away from Ferris. It’s easy to say that we didn’t work hard enough, but I thought we did try hard. Ferris played well and we just didn’t have the jump or the legs tonight.”
The slower game may have disappointed fans, but it delighted the Bulldogs, who were content to win an ugly, defensive hockey game.
“Give them credit because I think they played their game to a T,” said Comley. “They pack it in (defensively), they keep it tight and try to convert on power plays or turnovers. You give them a five-on-three and they are probably going to score.”
Mitch O’Keefe was solid in net for Ferris, turning aside 27 shots in the victory. Although the goalkeeper played solid positional hockey, he was the beneficiary of a bit of puck luck as well.
“He was really good with handling the maintenance around the crease, knowing when to move pucks or when to freeze them, directing rebounds. He made a lot of saves that weren’t easy look easy because of that,” said Daniels. “He also got a little fortunate when they hit the crossbar in the second period, so there were some fortuitous bounces.”
On the other side of the ice, Jeff Lerg played well enough to win, but came up on the short side for a second consecutive game. He made 25 stops, giving the Spartans a fighting chance, but the offense was stifled .
After a staring match in the first period, Ferris opening the scoring at 4:23 of the second. Lerg kicked aside Greg Rallo’s initial shot, but Mike Bombersback was there to knock in the rebound. Shortly following the score, the Bulldogs buzzed for a few minutes and got several chances, but Lerg was able to keep the Spartans in the game until they could find some scoring.
Down 1-0 in the final minute of the second period, Tim Crowder scored a power play goal to draw the Spartans even. Tim Kennedy controlled the puck long the sideboards and fumbled the puck to David Booth who drove the net. Booth managed a shot on goal as he was knocked from his feet, and Crowder flipped home the rebound.
While it seemed like a huge swing in momentum, Crowder’s tally was all the scoring the Spartans would muster against O’Keefe and the Bulldogs.