BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Eleven players tallied points in No. 1 Ferris State’s 5-1 win over the Bowling Green Falcons.
Four of those five goals, and Falcons’ loan goal, came in a high-scoring third period.
With all four lines tallying goals, it was a combined team effort that propelled the Bulldogs past the Falcons.
“We get to the third, cut it to a goal, and can’t sustain it,” said Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron. “Our youth and depth got exposed by a team that is very experienced and deep.”
After a scoreless first period that saw Ferris State outshoot the Falcons by a margin of 12-4, Ferris State struck first at the 3:39 mark of the middle frame.
With Ferris State on a power play, Matthew Kirzinger picked up a rebound and went from his forehand to his backhand while waiting for Bowling Green netminder Andrew Hammond to make the first move before lifting the puck over the junior goalie.
Ferris State appeared to be content with the lead and let up as the period wore on, but senior Hobey Baker candidate Taylor Nelson stood tall between the posts to preserve the lead near the end of the period.
“He [Nelson] deserves a lot of credit, and he won’t get it if you just look at the score sheet,” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels.
Daniels wasn’t alone in praising Nelson, as Kirzinger also took note of the goalie’s play, saying, “Nelly really held things together there for a few minutes.”
Ferris State added to its lead early in the third period with a great breakout following a defensive zone faceoff win that ended with Garret Thompson going one-on-one with a Bowling Green defenseman.
Thompson drove the net and slipped the puck between Hammond’s pads to make it a two-goal game.
“I tried to use my body and size to go out wide,” said the sophomore forward. “I was just trying to draw a penalty and get a shot on net.”
With an assist on the goal, senior defenseman Chad Billins extended his point streak to 10 games.
However, Bowling Green wasn’t quite done. Robert Shea dropped down from the point and poked a rebound past Nelson as the Falcons were working desperately to get back into the game.
Ferris State answered back with goals by T.J. Schlueter and Cory Kane just 1:05 apart to take a three-goal lead into the game’s closing minutes.
Aaron Schmit added on a final goal with 3:52 to play to put the game out of reach.
“At 2-1, it was anybody’s game,” said Daniels of the Bulldogs capitalizing on the Falcons pressing hard in the third period. “It was certainly not a 5-1 game, it was just a matter of them pressing to tie up and then win the game.”
Next weekend, Bowling Green (9-19-5, 4-17-4-3 CCHA) will conclude its CCHA regular season schedule with two games at Yost Arena against Michigan. Meanwhile, Ferris State (21-8-4, 15-6-4-1 CCHA) will travel to Western Michigan on Friday before hosting the Broncos on Saturday night with the CCHA regular season title potentially on the line.