BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — The Bulldogs lethargic offensive play continued on Friday night as the Wolverines top scoring offense in the CCHA rolled on. Chad Kolarik netted his 9th and 10th goals of the season while Michigan goaltender Billy Sauer made 33 saves to lead Michigan to a 3-2 victory.
The game winner came at 6:26 of the third period with the Wolverines on the power play with a 5 on 3 opportunity. Kevin Porter and Jack Johnson cycled the puck at the point and then passed it down to Kolarik. Bulldog goaltender Mitch O’Keefe slid over to make the save, but Kolarik hammered the puck home.
“I thought the game was pretty even,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “I thought our play today was very good except for our power play. We only went 1 for 9 on the power play and we really played on our heels after we took a 2 goal lead. The Bulldogs outchanced us 8-2 in the final 8 minutes of the game. We really need to put teams away.”
“We played well tonight, but we have to stop taking foolish penalties,” Bulldogs coach Bob Daniels said. “I thought we had a lot of intensity, but we have to channel that into productivity and not into bad penalties. The penalties we took tonight really killed our line combinations and our momentum. The difference in the game was Mitch O’Keefe for us. He came up with big saves when we needed him to. That could have been a 4-1 or 5-1 game and then its a very different game.”
The game was called very tight by the referees, and at some points inconsistently which caused both teams to be overly cautious. The first three chances were awarded to the Wolverines, which caused the collective masses in the arena to moan in agony.
Despite those three power play opportunities by the Wolverines, it was the Bulldogs who struck first. Cody Chupp shot the puck on net which was deflected away by goaltender Billy Sauer. Blair Riley was there to put the rebound in the back of the net at 9:49 to make it 1-0.
That lead would only last for 24 seconds as the Wolverines answered back quickly. T.J. Hensick passed the puck over to a wide open David Rohfls. With goaltender Mitch O’Keefe down with the pads stacked, Rohfls roofed the puck into the top corner of the net to tie the game 1-1.
Chad Kolarik would give the wolverines the lead 32 seconds later on a very fortunate bounce. Andrew Cogliano tried a cross ice pass that went off the skate of a Bulldog defender and into the offensive zone. Kolarik collected the puck and went in all alone on the Bulldog netminder. Kolarik wristed the shot into the top corner of the net to make it 2-1 at 10:45.
The Wolverines passes were all crisp and tape to tape while Ferris State was just clinging on for their lives. At the end of the period, the Wolverines had a 3 to 1 shot advantage. The Bulldogs were indeed fortunate to be only down by one entering the second period.
The second period was more of a chess match than anything else as both teams seemed to be much more passive and careful. The Wolverines definitely had more scoring opportunities, but Ferris State seemed to be much more into the game than the first period as they had a few chances of their own.
The Wolverines continued their dominance as they outchanced the Bulldogs again but not by much smaller margin. They came close to making it 3-1 when a shot from the left faceoff circle hit the Bulldog goaltender, and dropped on the goal line before it was cleared. After further review, there was no goal.
The third period was all Wolverines as they limited Ferris States chances to the outside and frustrated the Bulldogs into taking more penalties. With the Bulldogs down two men, the Wolverines connected on tape to tape passes and scored to make it a two goal game.
Matt Verdone made it a 1 goal game at 19:36, but it was too little too late for the Bulldogs.
“I thought Billy Sauer played very well tonight,” Berenson said. “He came up with some incredible saves in the final moments of that game.”
Ferris State and Michigan will play again on Saturday.