BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Multi-goal performances by Travis Ouellette and Kyle Bonis led the Ferris State Bulldogs to a 4-0 win in their home opener against the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineers Friday night.
Ferris State’s record remains spotless with a 3-0-0 record.
After a scoreless first period, Ouelette got the scoring started late in the second period with a rebound goal. Eric Alexander took the initial shot and Ouellette stuffed it home past RPI goalie Bryce Merriam on his third attempt.
“It was definiately relieving to score that first goal and get on the board,” said Ouelette. “Scoring one at the end of the period definately boosts your confidence.”
Ouellette netted his second of the night at 1:15 of the third period. With the Bulldogs on a power play, Nick Bailen failed to clear the zone and Ouelette was again left alone to finish off his own rebound by roofing a shot over a sprawling Merriam.
After Ouellette’s sophomore slump, his five goals in three games are a great start to his junior campaign.
“I think he rededicated himself and came out with a fresh start,” said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels.
Bonis continued the scoring for the Bulldogs five minutes after Ouelette’s second goal. After ringing a shot off the post as the Bulldogs gained the zone, Bonis worked to get open at the top of the left circle where Jordie Johnston found him with a pass that Bonis rifled past Merriam.
Bonis capped off the scoring with an empty-net goal with 2:44 to play in the game.
“Bonis was more or less given an opportunity,” said Daniels. “He’s played before, but not in the role that he’s in, so maybe shame on me for not getting him in those roles earlier.”
Not to be missed amongst the performances by Ouellette and Bonis was the shutout posted by Bulldogs’ senior goalie Taylor Nelson. Though he faced just 17 shots, Nelson came up with big saves when called on. Nelson proved up to the task midway through the first period with several big saves while RPI was crowding the crease.
“A low number of shots in a shutout is generally a team effort,” said Nelson. “Obviously, the goaltender gets a little bit of the credit, but it’s a complete effort from the forwards to the ‘D’ and all the way back. It takes a full team effort to get the goose egg.”
Nelson was aided by nine blocked shots from his teammates.
“They have a high will to block shots,” said RPI head coach Seth Appert.
Prior to Ouellette openning the scoring, both teams had chances and the game could have gone either way. The Engineers’ defense came up with big plays to help Merriam out in the first period, while Nelson was big on the chances RPI had in the second.
“Both teams were stingy defensively,” said Daniels. “I thought both teams brought a similar mindset to the game. The first goal was a broken play. The puck was bouncing around and we whacked it in. I thought the second goal opened things up for us.”
With RPI down two goals early in the third period, the Engineers had to start taking more chances.
“I thought for the first 35 minutes that the first team to score was going to win,” said Appert. “We have to be willing to win puck battles. You have to credit their experience and their will to play the way they need to play. I thought we got a little frustrated that it was 0-0 and we weren’t able to win the puck battles.
“We started cheating a bit and looking for easy offense instead of continuing to work for it and knowing that it was going to come if we kept doing the right thing.”
Ferris State and Rensselaer (1-2-0) will conclude their weekend series tomorrow night.