BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Brett Wysopal’s first collegiate goal proved to be the game winner Saturday night in Big Rapids as the Ferris State Bulldogs recorded their third home sweep in a row with a 3-2 win over the Bowling Green Falcons.
Bowling Green (0-3-1-1 CCHA) started the game looking slow after facing 11 power plays in the Friday night opener, but they still netted the game’s first goal. An early penalty against Todd Pococke at the 4:01 mark helped the Falcons get off on the right foot.
They quickly set up their power play and generated a few shots on goal. Tomas Petruska let a shot fly from the right point and Bulldogs’ goaltender Pat Nagle made the initial save despite a mess in front of the net, but Kai Kantola put the rebound over the pile.
“I thought we moved the puck well on the power play,” said Bowling Green coach Dennis Williams. “We’re fighting the fight right now. Every puck seems to be bouncing over the net or bouncing off the guy’s stick and into the corner.”
Travis Ouellette got the Bulldogs (2-2-0-0 CCHA) on the board with his first of the night just over three minutes later. A relatively innocent shot from the right point skipped off Nick Eno’s shoulder and slid over the goal line as Eno frantically tried to locate the puck.
The Bulldogs’ goal failed to dent Bowling Green’s momentum, and the Falcons kept the pressure on. However, Nagle kept them out of the net for much of the game.
Ouellette added his second of the night at the 14:31 mark of the first. His first shot on a two-on-one clanged off the post and came to a rest in Eno’s pads. Ouellette then shoved Eno and the puck into the net, knocking it off its moorings. After video review, the goal was upheld.
“Walking in as a freshman, your opportunities are very limited, so scoring on your chances and working hard is key,” said Ouellette. “I feel like I’m a lot better around the net. Those are my kind of goals, garbage goals I guess you could say.”
Bowling Green had four power plays in the second period, but generated just four shots with their extra attacker time. Despite the power plays, the Falcons’ best scoring chance in the second came when they were short-handed following a checking from behind major penalty to Cameron Sinclair. Josh Boyd deked to his backhand on a breakaway chance, but was poke-checked by Nagle after holding on to the puck a bit too long.
Wysopal’s first career goal added to the Bulldogs’ lead with four minutes to play in second. With the Bulldogs down a skater because of a checking from behind major to Matt Kirzinger, Casey Haines poked the puck out of the Bulldogs’ zone to Aaron Lewicki, and Wysopal joined the rush to generate a two-on-one for the Bulldogs. Lewicki waited nearly too long to slide the puck across to Wysopal, who had some problems receiving the pass before going top shelf on Eno.
“It was nice to get the monkey off my back; it’s been a lot of games,” said Wysopal. “I was going to take a one-timer, but the pass was too hard. I thought the goalie [Eno] got across, so I shot as hard as I could.”
In the third period, Nagle kept Ferris State in the game after the Bulldogs came out flat. Both Reed Rushing and Jordan Samuels-Thomas had good looks, but Nagle made the saves with no screen in front of him. A time out with 12 minutes to play helped the Bulldogs get back on their feet.
“I thought we were tired,” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels. “The guys that were on the penalty kill were tired and the guys that weren’t had lost their game intensity. That’s why I called the time-out.”
Bowling Green continued to get open looks in the third, but Nagle held tough until Petruska broke through with three minutes to play. A defensive lapse left him open to take a pass from Bryan Potacco in the right circle. Nagle wasn’t able to shift to his left in time and Pretruska slid the shot past his blocker.
Bowling Green launched a flurry of chances in the final three minutes, but weren’t able to get much to the net. Eno got pulled for the extra attacker with a minute left, but it didn’t matter. Neither team was able to break out of the neutral zone.
Bowling Green will host the No. 13 Alaska Nanooks next weekend, while the Bulldogs will travel to No. 1 Miami for a two game series.