BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Jordie Johnston’s hat trick was just enough to lift the 17th ranked Ferris State Bulldogs to a 4-3 win over the Colgate Raiders.
“It’s definitely nice [to be back in the win column],” said Johnston. “We came out hard, which we’ve been lacking lately. It’s really just hard work and doing the little things right.”
Colgate started the game strong and took an early lead with a power-play goal seven minutes into the tilt. With Eric Alexander in the penalty box for tripping, Corbin McPherson picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired a shot past Nelson.
“We had a chance to steal one on the road, one-goal lead with seven minutes to go,” said Colgate coach Don Vaughn. “Now, whether or not we deserved that is another story.”
Following the slow start, the Bulldogs began to bring momentum back to their side, starting with Johnston’s first goal of the night to tie the game at one.
With Johnston streaking down the right side, Matt Kirzinger fired a hard shot off of Eric Mihalik’s pads. The rebound landed right on Johnston’s stick in the right circle, and he lifted the puck into the open net.
Johnston’s second goal came four minutes into the second period and was a mirror image of his first. This time it was Johnston picking up Kirzinger’s rebound in the left circle with an open net in front of him.
Johnston’s second goal gave Ferris State its first lead since a win over Notre Dame on December 9, 2011.
However, the Raiders weren’t done yet. Mark Nasca got his stick on a puck in the slot and put a shot on target that was tipped past Nelson by Spiro Goulakos for his first goal of the year.
The Raiders took the lead back with four minutes to play in the middle frame off a goal by Joe Wilson. Austin Smith made a great effort to go end-to-end before having the puck roll off his stick on the wraparound attempt. Fortunately for Colgate, Wilson was on the doorstep to nudge the puck in.
“He’s [Smith] playing on a totally different level,” said Vaughn. “When you have that skillset and when you have that work ethic, you get a pretty good hockey player.”
The Bulldogs tied the game back up with a power-play goal by Aaron Schmit with seven minutes left in the game.
Johnston completed his hat trick with the go-ahead goal for Ferris State with 2:30 to play in the contest. Two great passes by T.J. Schlueter and Billins got Johnston behind the Colgate defense, where he cut to the net and out-waited Mihalik to get another look at an open net.
“We got a hold of the puck in their zone and Schlueter made a great pass to Billins, and Billins made maybe even a better pass to me and just left me alone in front of the net,” said Johnston. I was lucky enough to out-wait the goalie and slide it in, but without those two nice passes, that play never happens.”
Smith nearly tied the game with seconds remaining with a great individual effort to drive the net, but Taylor Nelson somehow got across the crease to get a pad on the puck to preserve the Bulldogs win.
The Bulldogs outshot the Raiders 44-25 on the night, despite the slow start. Ferris State had strong periods of play in all three periods that featured long terms in the Raiders’ zone.
“We spent some time in their zone, which means they weren’t in our zone, which is key,” said Johnston.”It’s good because we got their goalie tired, and that’s what we want.”
Ferris State and Colgate will conclude their nonconference series tomorrow afternoon with an early, 4 p.m. start.