BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – A four-goal deficit proved insurmountable for the Alaska Nanooks in a 5-3 loss to the No. 10 Ferris State Bulldogs.
Despite not playing one of their best games this year, Ferris State (9-2-1, 6-0-1 WCHA) held on late in the game to take the win and extend its unbeaten streak to eight games.
“We got the win and that’s great, but we really didn’t play that well,” said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels. “Realistically, we won that one, but we were lucky.”
A clear advantage in shots on goal and power-play opportunities did not transfer to the scoreboard for Alaska (5-4-2, 2-3-0 WCHA), largely due to the play of Ferris State goalie C.J. Motte.
“Motte played really well; he made some key saves in the second,” said Alaska coach Dallas Ferguson. “Their goaltender was first star. We knew going in that he was a tough, All-American type goalie.”
Motte proved his mettle early in the first when Garrick Perry broke in alone and Motte steered the attempt wide of the net and again in the second by backstopping the Bulldogs on a five-minute penalty kill.
“I thought the penalty kill was exceptional,” said Daniels. “C.J. played great, not only saves, but helping us move the puck out of the zone. I thought it was one of his best games of the year.”
The inability to capitalize on early chances doomed the Nanooks late in the game, as Ferris State took a three-goal lead into the third period and then added a fourth goal less than a minute into the final frame.
Late in a turbulent second period, sophomore Matt Robertson got Ferris State’s offense back on track with a breakaway goal on Alaska goaltender John Keeney.
Then, Ferris State looked to put the game out of reach with a goal from Jason Binkley to close out the second period and one from Chad McDonald less than a minute into the third period.
“I never felt comfortable even when we were up 4-0; we weren’t really on our game,” said Daniels.
The Nanooks were far from finished though, coming back with three goals in the first half of the third period to set up a 10-minute showdown.
“We responded well for having been off for a week,” said Ferguson. “Our guys responded well and gave themselves a chance.”
Heading into tomorrow night’s contest, Ferris State felt one thing is necessary for them to take the weekend sweep: emotion.
“The whole game there was no emotion and that’s what we need to play well,” said forward Dom Panetta. “We found a way to win and that’s what good teams do when everyone plays bad.”
McDonald echoed the sentiment, saying, “We haven’t put a full 60 minutes together this year. We’ve leaned on the crowd a lot to keep our energy going.”