BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — A late Western Michigan goal from Cam Watson brought the Broncos within one, but they couldn’t overcome a three-goal deficit in a 4-3 loss to the Ferris State Bulldogs.
Watson was alone in the slot when he took a feed from Jared Katz and made a great move to his backhand to beat Bulldogs’ goaltender Taylor Nelson with just over four minutes to play in the third period.
“It was just a sloppy game,” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels, “but good teams find a way to win games.”
The Bulldogs (13-3-2, 8-2-2-2 CCHA) were three-of-four on the power play in the first period, with two of the tallies coming from junior forward Todd Pococke.
The Broncos’ (6-9-3, 2-9-3-1 CCHA) defense blocked a shot from Ferris State’s Blair Riley, but Pococke was the first to the loose puck in the slot. His shot slipped by Riley Gill for the first Bulldogs’ goal of the night.
Pococke netted his second goal with 8:32 left in the first by tipping in a shot from defenseman Scott Wietecha.
The Bulldogs added a third power-play goal with 2:11 remaining in the frame on a Zach Redmond one-timer. Redmond drifted into the slot from his post at the blue line and Cody Chupp slipped him a pass from behind the Broncos’ net.
“This was a very uncharacteristic night for us on the penalty kill,” said Broncos’ coach Jim Culhane. Entering tonight’s game, Western Michigan’s penalty kill was working at 85.7 percent.
After an up-tempo first period from the Bulldogs, the game noticeably slowed down in the second and third periods.
“We had a hard time staying focused at times,” said Daniels.
Western Michigan got on the board halfway through the second stanza with J.J. Crew’s first goal of the game. Crew took advantage of a Broncos’ power play and got open in the slot to deflect a pass from Ben Miller past Nelson.
Crew added his second in the waning minutes of the second period by getting a wrist shot to trickle past Nelson.
Ferris State regained a two-goal lead early in the third with a tally from Derek Graham. Graham took the puck coast-to-coast before attempting a centering pass that deflected off Gill’s pads and into the Broncos’ net.
However, the Broncos weren’t done yet. They again made the game interesting with Watson’s goal late in the third period.
Our team showed a lot of heart in coming back and making it a one-goal game with 20 minutes to go,” said Culhane.
However, the Bulldogs’ defense held strong and kept Gill from getting to the bench for the extra skater. When he finally got off the ice, Gill had to come right back on after a Broncos’ high stick with 30 seconds to play in the third. He didn’t get off the ice again, as Ferris State won the ensuing faceoff and kept the puck tied up along the boards for the remainder of the game.
Western Michigan is in action again when No. 4 Bemidji State makes the trip to Kalamazoo for a two-game series January 2-3. Ferris State returns to the ice January 2 against the Yale Bulldogs in their opening game of the Badger Hockey Showdown in Madison, Wis.