KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Backed by a 23 save, some spectacular, performance by Ferris State netminder Mitch O’Keefe, the Bulldogs defeated the Broncos of Western Michigan by the score of 4-2.
“The difference in tonight’s game was O’Keefe in net for them,” said Bronco head coach Jim Culhane. “He made some big saves for them. We had thought we had scored and the guys were jumping on the bench and he made some big saves.” .
Bronco forward Brent Walton opened the scoring just three minutes into the game when he took the puck across the crease and beat O’Keefe low on the glove side. Nathan Ansell received his seventh assist of the year and Paul Szczechura got his 17th.
Bulldog Adam Miller answered with his first of the night on a breakaway. Chris Zarb started the play by passing the puck to his defensive partner Andrew Winnik who then sent Miller in on Bronco goalie Daniel Bellissimo. Miller beat Bellissimo low on the stick side.
Late in the first period, Bulldog defensemen Alex Spezia was shown the gate for the game for checking from behind, giving the Broncos a five-minute power play to end the first and to start the second.
The Broncos and Bulldogs ended the first period tied in shots with 10 each and a tied score at 1-1.
1:04 into the second period the Bulldogs broke the tie score while shorthanded. Mark Bomersback and Greg Rallo broke into the Bronco defensive zone facing just one defender. Bomersback passed the puck over to Rallo, who roofed it, beating Bellissimo on the blocker side.
Ferris State would add another goal seven minutes later, this one on the power play. Adam Miller scored his second of the game with the assists going to Zac Pearson and Adam Welch.
Justin Lewandowski added an insurance tally at 17:33 of the second period. Eric Vesely and Adam Miller were given the assist on the goal.
The Broncos tried to make a comeback as Mike Lesperance scored his fifth of the year. The shorthanded goal came at 11:06 of the third period. Lesperance broke in on O’Keefe and pulled a move getting the Ferris netminder to move side to side. Lesperance then pulled the puck back and roofed it over O’Keefe’s shoulder.
O’Keefe spoiled any chance of the Broncos coming back, stopping 10 of the 11 Bronco shots headed his way in the third. None were better then when he stopped Brent Walton not once, not twice, but three times on the door step.
“He played really well tonight. In the third there were a couple of saves that were really big time,” Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels said.
The Broncos finished with 25 shots on net and were 0-for-5 on the power play including the five minute major. Ferris took 30 shots and finished 1-for-7 on the power play.
“We had an opportunity there with that five minute power play. We didn’t generate enough traffic in front,” Culhane said.
The rematch is set for 7:05 tomorrow night at Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich.