ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Ferris State played the perfect road game through the 25 minutes against Michigan Friday night, scoring two unanswered goals and smothering any chances the Wolverines could muster.
Lee Moffie scored for Michigan through a maze of players at 5:42 of the second period and ignited the Wolverine offense. Michigan added two more goals in the second period to take a 3-2 lead and hung on to defeat the Bulldogs at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor.
Junior defenseman Brandon Burlon notched a goal and an assist for Michigan, not only pacing the offensive attack, but controlling the puck in all three zones for the Wolverines.
“Burlon had another good game and good for him,” said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. He scored an important goal in the game and gave us a lot of good minutes defensively. He’s playing his best hockey right now.”
“The second half of the season you don’t want to be giving up games just because you’re down a few goals,” Burlon said. “It’s good to know we can come back. We did it against Michigan State in Lansing but unfortunately came out on the wrong end of an overtime loss, but knowing we have that ability and character is definitely an added plus.”
The Michigan power play failed to find the net on three early chances in the first period and could have swung the momentum in their direction at that point with any special team success.
Berenson and Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels had slightly differing opinions on the effect of the frequent successful penalty kills the Bulldogs employed against Michigan, using a very aggressive style of pressuring the puck.
“Obviously (the first goal) brought the crowd into it,” commented Daniels. “I thought the second period was a weaker period for us. That, and too many power play opportunities for Michigan. Even when they didn’t score on them, it really tilted the ice in their favor and took a lot of the starch out of our team. You use the same guys over and over to kill (penalties). We’ve got to be more disciplined, take less penalties. With that number of penalties, it’s going to be very difficult to beat Michigan.”
Berenson saw things differently.
“You don’t really want three power play chances in the first period,” said the Wolverines’ mentor. “You might not be going that well at that point. Had we scored on the first one, it might have been different, but we didn’t.. Their penalty killing was very good and that is why they are one of the best defensive teams in the country.”
“It was a game we wanted to get a good start,” said Berenson. “Ferris came in here just before the game off the bus.
“You would think they had some bus legs, but they didn’t at all. I thought they had the jump in the first period. When they got that first goal, it obviously gave them life. Then they got the second goal. I think our team just had to keep battling.”
Both Moffie’s goal and Burlon’s score, the game tying effort for the Wolverines, came on screened shots from the point.
Chris Brown added the winner for Michigan with just over a minute left in the third period
Ferris State had jumped off to their early start on goals by Garrett Thompson and Chad Billins.
At 4:43 of the opening period, Nate Hennig’s shot bounced out to Thompson in front of the Michigan net. Thompson quickly banged the puck by Michigan netminder Shawn Hunwick for the game’s opening goal, his fourth of the season.
A pretty power play connection by Ferris State put the Bulldogs up by two early in the second period before Michigan stormed back with a trio of scores of their own.
Scott Czarnowczan’s pass from the left point was one-timed high over Hunwick by Billins at 3:37 on the power play to extend Ferris State’s lead to 2-0.
Michigan then used two consecutive screen shots from the left point to pull even with Ferris State.
Moffie took two strides inside the left point at 5:42 and fired the puck through a maze of players by Ferris State goaltender Pat Nagle to put the Wolverines on the scoreboard, still trailing 2-1.
Moffie’s goal seemed to awaken the slumbering Wolverines and they started to show much more offensive bounce as a result.
Burlon used the same plan as Moffie three minutes later, finding the back of the net from the left point on another screen shot at 8:45.
Carl Hagelin’s hard work behind the Bulldog net set up Brown for the easy tap-in at 18:58 to complete the Michigan comeback and give the Wolverines a 3-2 two-period margin which they never relinquished.
Separated by only two points in the CCHA standing prior to this Friday night match, the two-game set takes on an even more urgent significance as the season gradually starts to wind down toward postseason play.
“It’s too early to worry too much about the standings other than you need points every weekend,” Daniels warned of overplaying the importance of Saturday night’s re-match.
Michigan (14-6-4 overall, 11-4-1-0 in the CCHA) and Ferris State (11-9-4, 8-7-3-2) make the cross-state trip westward for Saturday night’s series finale at cozy Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids.