EAST LANSING, Mich. — Through two periods tonight, there was little difference between Ferris State and Michigan State, but with the score tied 1-1 early in the third, Chris Forfar scored his second goal of the season to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead, and Tanner Sorensen scored the insurance goal at 11:24 to give MSU a 3-1 win over FSU and lift the Spartans out of the CCHA cellar, at least momentarily.
The three-goal output was the highest for the Spartans since their 7-2 win over Michigan Nov. 10, and in the stretch between then and now, MSU has averaged one goal per game, having been shut out twice. The scoring came from three different lines, a welcome development, said coach Tom Anastos.
“As you know, we’re trying to find some balance and trying to find some additional scoring and the challenge that we have — one of the challenges that we have — is that we don’t have enough bodies,” said Anastos. “We’ve got guys out and so we’re juggling lines constantly. It’s hard to get some rhythm.”
Offense has been an issue for the struggling Bulldogs, now winless in their last four with their last three contests losses. In those three games — a two-game sweep at the hands of Western Michigan last weekend and tonight’s contest — FSU averaged 1.34 goals per game.
“As the game went on, I thought we were fine,” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels. “We had a blown faceoff coverage, so that’s no good, and our guy blew a wheel on the line rush, our defenseman. We could have easily won it, too. I’m not going to hang myself tonight.”
The teams exchanged goals in the first period, with MSU’s Matt Berry scoring at 6:52 and FSU’s Jason Binkley answering at 15:49. There were just two penalties in the first 40 minutes, resulting in a power play for each team, so the game was quick and even, up-and-down hockey.
In the third though, the Spartans pressured early and kept the pressure on through the end, managing to fend off the Bulldogs in the final two minutes of play when FSU pulled goaltender C.J. Motte for a six-on-five advantage while Greg Wolfe was in the box for tripping late in the period.
“It was really nice to see that puck go in the net to create the lead again and especially to see the third goal go in, but again I like the way we played the whole game,” said Anastos. “I thought we did a good job trying to attack them. They defend very well. They don’t make it easy for you. I thought we played a pretty good game, and yet we only generated 22 shots on goal. They make it very difficult to generate good scoring chances.
“At the end, we were scrambling six-on-four, but guys were blocking shots, they were sacrificing and [Ferris State] missed some nets. We might have been living right tonight.”
Jake Hildebrand finished the night with 23 saves in his third win of the season; Motte had 19 saves in his seventh loss.
This was the last regular-season game for each team before the holiday break. Ferris State (7-7-3, 6-6-1-0 CCHA) will resume play Dec. 28 against Cornell in the Florida College Classic in Estero, Fla., while Michigan State (5-10-2, 4-8-1-0 CCHA) next plays Western Michigan Dec. 29 in the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament in Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.