BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Goals from opposite ends of the age spectrum propelled the No. 10 Ferris State Bulldogs past the No. 16 Michigan State Spartans.
A close contest was decided by goals from senior captain Chad Billins and freshman upstart T.J. Schlueter.
Coaches from both teams were in agreement about the pace and intensity of the night’s game.
“I thought all along that these two teams were evenly matched,” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels. “Realistically, it was a dead heat.”
Michigan State coach Tom Anastos agreed, saying, “This game was pretty much what we planned for and anticipated.”
Ferris State had the better chances in the scoreless first period, with forwards Matt Kirzinger and Aaron Schmit both being denied on breakaways; Kirzinger by the post and Schmit by goaltender, Will Yanakeff.
Despite the early opportunities for the Bulldogs, it was Michigan State’s Matt Berry who opened the game’s scoring with just over four minutes still to play in the second period.
With the Spartans on a power play, Berry drove the net and slid the puck past Taylor Nelson before crashing heavily into the Bulldogs netminder. After a lengthy review by the officials, it was decided that the puck had entered the net before contact between Berry and Nelson occurred.
“The officials told us they had blown the play dead once the goalies mask began to come off,” said Anastos. “They reviewed it and saw that the puck was clearly in the net it sounds like before that transpired.”
Berry’s goal was the lone bright spot for Michigan State’s offense, however.
“We didn’t do a good enough job of paying the price to get to the net,” said Anastos.
The Bulldogs didn’t let the call get them down and tied the game up with just 18 seconds remaining in the second frame while on a power play of their own.
“It was a really big goal, said Daniels. “I thought our players deserved a lot of credit for staying on task.”
Billins converted the power play to tie the game up at one with a slap shot from the top of the slot that Yanakeff never saw. Freshman Simon Denis assisted on the play with a backhand pass after making a great play to hold the puck in the Spartan zone.
Going into the game’s closing minutes, Ferris State began to take over the play. First, the Bulldogs had a two-on-one chance by Schmit and Eric Alexander that saw Schmit fan on the pass from Alexander while staring at an open net.
Then Schlueter and senior Derek Graham teamed up for the game-winning goal. Graham fought his way through most of the Spartans defense before dishing the puck to Shclueter at the top of the crease for an easy goal.
“[Kyle] Bonis made a great play to stay onside and then was kind of a decoy so I could maneuver in and get a pass to Schlueter,” said Graham.
Ferris State (16-8-3, 10-6-3-1 CCHA) and Michigan State (13-10-4, 8-8-3-0 CCHA) will conclude their season series tomorrow night.