MARQUETTE, Mich. — On Saturday night, the Ferris State Bulldogs managed to pick up only their third victory in 16 games in surprising fashion. Despite playing the entire third period with only four active defensemen, the Bulldogs scored a victory over the Northern Michigan Wildcats, 5-3.
Early in the first period FSU defenseman Jim Jorgensen was leveled at his own blue line. Jorgensen struggled to get to his feet for a few moments and then stumbled from the ice. He was unable to return to the game.
“That was a pretty good hit and Jorgensen had a Charlie horse,” FSU coach Bob Daniels said. “He came back and tried, but the swelling in the leg prohibited him from bending his knee. Once the swelling goes down, I assume that he will be ready to go for next weekend.”
Already in a five-man defensive rotation, the Bulldogs (5-13-1, 3-10-2) were hurt yet again late in the second period when Adam Welch drew a game misconduct for checking Wildcat Darin Olver from behind. Although NMU was unable to capitalize on the man advantage, the ejection left the number of active Bulldog defenders at four.
FSU forward Brendan Connolly, who was a defenseman in juniors, was moved back to play a few defensive shifts late in the game, as well.
“It may have been a positive, in a bit of a weird way,” Daniels said. “With so few defensemen, sometimes you can get a flow going, but Connolly gave them a breather when needed.”
On top of covering the occasional defensive shift, Connolly also managed to bold his name in the scoring column. He lit the lamp twice early on in the second period to put the Bulldogs up by a goal.
With the game tied at one, a defensive miscue by the Wildcats left Connolly alone in front of the net and with the puck where he beat Zaniboni for the game-tying goal.
Then, five minutes later he netted his second goal of the night to put FSU up for good.
The Wildcats (8-13-2, 5-10-1) looked slow from the start and after last night’s victory, they may have taken the Bulldogs a little too lightly.
“We had a good game last night and I think we just came in here thinking that we were entitled to win and it looked like that attitude followed us through the game,” NMU forward Mike Santorelli said. “Any team can beat any team in this league and we just weren’t ready. We can’t take things for granted.”
Santorelli scored two goals of his own on the night, bumping his season total to 17. His thoughts on the team were echoed by the coach.
“I thought we came out flat and Ferris did a good job,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “We weren’t able to capitalize 5-on-5, and then we got some power-play opportunities that we didn’t convert on. Give Ferris credit though, they did a very good job.”
Clinging to a one goal lead midway through the final period, the Bulldogs struck again when Eric Vesely snuck the puck past Zaniboni for his fifth marker of the season. The goal put FSU up 4-2 and iced the game.
“That late goal kind of killed us,” Santorelli said. “We haven’t swept all year and we started working hard in the last five minutes and we can’t wait until the last five minutes of the game to work hard and expect to win.”
The Bulldog victory may draw questions about Wildcat consistency, but FSU was just happy to escape Marquette with two points.
“This win will make practice a lot better come Monday,” Daniels said. “It will be a lot more enjoyable around the rink this week.”
The Wildcats have lost eight of their last nine games and will travel to Ann Arbor next weekend where they will take on the Michigan Wolverines (13-8-0, 8-5-0).
Ferris State will take on Wayne State (4-16-0) in Detroit.