HOUGHTON, Mich. — Sometimes, change can be a good thing.
After a lengthy closed-door discussion following Friday night’s loss at Michigan Tech, No. 6 Ferris State got a strong effort from spot starter Charles Williams Saturday night and his 25-save shutout was enough to help the visitors skate away with a 3-0 road win at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“I tried to keep it simple,” said Williams. “[It was my] first start in awhile. I stuck to my work ethic in practice and it came pretty out well.”
The Huskies challenged Williams, who was making his first start since Oct. 18, almost from the drop of the opening faceoff with five shots in the opening eight minutes. Discipline was an issue for the Huskies all night. Despite the territorial advantage they had early on, it was the Bulldogs (18-6-3 overall, 13-3-2 WCHA) who struck first, thanks to the first of several penalties taken by key Huskies’ skaters.
After a pair of penalties set up a four-on-four situation, MTU co-captain Blake Pietila took a penalty in the middle of the rink for elbowing to set up the Bulldogs’ first scoring shots of the game. Justin Buzzeo’s shot sat just to right of the Huskies’ goalie Jamie Phillips’ leg. Andy Huff crashed the net and beat Phillips on the rebound at 8:31. Ryan Lowney also assisted on the goal.
“I think tonight we had more integrity defensively than what we’ve had the last few games,” said Bulldogs’ coach Bob Daniels. “[I'm] certainly pleased with the team’s performance.”
A late-period power play gave the Huskies (8-14-6 overall, 6-8-4 WCHA) a chance to get some offense back as they fired three shots, but were unable to find a hole in Williams.
“Obviously, we took a bunch of penalties early and that kind of killed the momentum,” said Michigan Tech co-captain Brad Stebner. “Some of those are frustration and mental errors. We have to take those out of our game if we are going to compete.”
The Huskies came out of the first intermission ready to change their fates and nearly did a little over six minutes in when Ryan Furne skated in on a one-to-two. After firing a shot wide to Williams’ left, Furne outskated both defensemen and got to his own rebound. Williams was forced to make a tough save with his right shoulder.
“You have to get Ferris a lot of credit,” said Huskies’ coach Mel Pearson. “They came in here and played a terrific road game.”
The Huskies had another chance two-and-a-half minutes later when C.J. Eick blocked a shot at his own blue line. After grabbing the puck, Eick fed Malcolm Gould on a two-on-one. Gould’s wicked wrist shot beat Williams cleanly, but not the crossbar.
A key mistake by David Johnstone allowed the visitors to open up a two-goal lead as Dakota Klecha stole the puck from Johnstone, who was turning back into his own end. Klecha skated in and beat Phillips over the left shoulder with a backhand shot at 10:27.
With two early power plays to start the third, it appeared the Huskies were poised to climb back into the game. However, Williams was equal to the task, preserving the lead until the smoke cleared.
“Coming out of the PK in the first five, six minutes, it helps me get into the groove,” said Williams. “I knew the boys were dialed in.”
Jared VanWormer extended the Bulldogs’ lead at 11:16. After getting the puck from Justin DeMartino, VanWormer spun around and beat Phillips with a shot that caromed of the right post and in. Scott Czarnowczan also assisted the goal, the first of VanWormer’s career.