ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan took advantage of having an extra skater three separate times early in the second period, building an insurmountable 3-0 lead on their way to a 5-2 win over Ferris State at Yost Ice Arena Thursday night.
Phil Di Giuseppe scored the game’s first and final goals for Michigan. Travis Lynch, David Wohlberg and Derek DeBlois filled in the remainder of the scoresheet for the Wolverines.
“It’s good to score against a team that doesn’t allow goals,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “(Ferris State) has only allowed five goals in six games and we knew goals would be precious. Maybe that’s why we played a little more opportunistic, or maybe we played a little better defensively. It was important to get goals on this team.”
Chad Billins and Jordie Johnston both scored power-play goals for the Bulldogs.
Entering the game, Ferris State carried an impressive unblemished record, winning all six of their contests, three by shutout.
“We didn’t play a very good hockey game,” said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels. “For whatever reason, I thought we looked lethargic. We had low energy until we fell behind by three. It wasn’t until we fell behind that I sensed a little urgency to our game. All in all, I’m pretty disappointed. It was bound to happen eventually (referring to the perfect 6-0 season start). It looked like we were out of gas.”
In net, Michigan’s Shawn Hunwick turned aside 28 of the Bulldog’s 30 shots, including a breakaway attempt by Ferris State’s Aaron Schmit three minutes into the final period when the Wolverines only led by two goals.
Bulldogs’ netminder Taylor Nelson made 23 saves in the contest.
Prior to Thursday’s game, Nelson had split playing time with freshman CJ Motte, each contributing three wins to the Bulldog cause.
The two teams played the opening 20 minutes evenly, true to the form that saw them ranked similarly heading into the series. Sixth-ranked Ferris State outshot the fourth-ranked Wolverines, 9-7, in the first period, but Michigan had better scoring chances. Michigan snapped off 21 shots in Nelson’s direction, but 10 were off-target and four more were blocked by defenders. Hunwick and Nelson ultimately ruled the period, though, each blanking their opponent’s offensive attack.
The second period was a totally different story. Michigan came out and promptly scored on three of their first nine shots, although having a man-advantage played a role in all three of their early goals. Ferris State scored a power-play goal of its own late in the second period to inch back into the game, only trailing the Wolverines 3-1 after 40 minutes.
On the power play at 4:20 of the middle stanza, Michigan’s Chris Brown controlled a bouncing puck in front of the Bulldog net and spied Di Giuseppe standing alone to Nelson’s left. Di Giuseppe took his time, teed up the puck and buried it behind Nelson from close range.
With a delayed penalty coming against the Bulldogs, Mac Bennett let loose a screened shot from the left point that sailed into the short side upper corner off Lynch over Nelson’s stick at 8:08.
Wohlberg completed the Michigan scoring in the period on the power play at 9:46 when he leaned on a snap shot from the slot that was initially ruled disallowed by the officials. Video replay showed that the puck did enter the Bulldog cage before quickly bouncing back out.
Ferris State replied with a gorgeous effort by Billins on the power play at 16:51. Billins picked up the puck at the red line and put on a solo burst into the Michigan zone and beat Hunwick with a nifty move to buoy the Bulldog spirits.
Michigan extended their lead to 4-1 at 7:10 of the third period when DeBlois beat Nelson off a rebound of Alex Guptill’s original shot.
Ferris State bounced back again to make it 4-2 when Johnston one-timed Scott Czarnowczan’s short, feathered pass in the high slot past Hunwick at 13:02.
The Bulldogs kept the pressure on Michigan until Brown unselfishly set up Di Giuseppe at 18:07 in front of the Bulldog cage only moments after it had been abandoned by Nelson for a late extra attacker.
“We fought hard to try to make it a game,” observed Daniels. “We allowed too many, too soon. You can’t afford to be on the road, at Michigan, and not be on your game for 60 (minutes).”
“I think we’re getting a little more confident with the puck and a little more confident in our game,” commented Berenson. “The more games you play, your game should be improving, Just subtle, little things, but I thought we had more players playing better tonight.”
The Wolverines (5-1-1, 1-1-1-1 CCHA) and the Bulldogs (6-1-0, 2-1-0-0 CCHA) wrap up their two-game tussle Friday night at Yost.