Bulldogs continue to find a way, still undefeated in the WCHA
For the second straight weekend, a former CCHA opponent came to town and got the short end of the stick.
The Ferris State Bulldogs scraped out a 5-3 victory over the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks on Nov. 22 at Ewigleben Ice Arena.
“We got the win and that’s great, but we didn’t play very well,” Head Coach Bob Daniels said. “Even when we were up 3-0, certainly we were not playing well enough to be up three goals.”
The Bulldog’s secondary scoring was the story of the night; none of the scorers had more than four goals on the season at the end of the evening.
Junior forward Dom Panetta, who is well known for his shift-to-shift motor, ripped in his second goal of the season in front of the Dawg Pound at 8:18 in the first period to open the scoring.
“Mayhew threw it in the middle, and Coach hates when we do that,” Panetta said. “I got it, lost it, back to Mayhew, he got it back to me, and I was able to bury it glove side high. It’s kind of a momentum changer when high energy guys score. I like to bring that to the team.”
Midway through the second period, senior forward Cory Kane met a lonely Nanook in the UAF corner and somewhat missed on a hit.
Unfortunately for Kane, the player was off balance and went head first into the boards.
After a short deliberation, Kane was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct.
“We’re lucky we have a lot of different forwards that can kill,” Daniels said. “Where I think we missed Kane on the penalty kill was on the faceoffs.”
In the second, sophomore forward Matt Robertson scored his second goal in as many games at 16:55 to start a second period scoring flurry.
Robertson got the puck at the Nanooks’ blue line after junior goaltender CJ Motte made an impressive shoulder stop on a wide-open shot.
Robertson broke away from the pack and slid the puck past a desperate John Keeney to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
Junior defensemen Jason Binkley had the next marker of the evening when he shot a wrist shot at Keeney, who appeared to trap it between his elbow and body. Keeney looked back too late as the puck trickled through him at 18:28 in the second.
The Bulldog’s capped their outburst with a slap shot from freshmen forward Chad McDonald, that snuck just underneath the crossbar 44 seconds into the final stanza, that gave Ferris a seemingly insurmountable lead.
The Nanooks woke up and scored three straight awkward goals on Motte. Marcus Basara opened UAF’s scoring at 5:12, and was followed by Cody Kunyk at 10:21, and Tyler Morley at 11:36.
The sudden change of events sucked the air out of the building and put the crowd on the edges of their seats. The 4-0 cushion had evaporated into thin air, with UAF nipping at the Bulldog’s heels in a then 4-3 contest late in the third.
Ferris was up to the challenge, and sophomore forward Kenny Babinski put the Nanooks on ice with his second goal in as many nights, when he put it into the empty net at 19:28.
With the win, Ferris is now undefeated in their last eight games, and is 6-0-1 in WCHA play to start their tenure in the new conference.
Motte made 41 saves on 44 shots, and continued to keep the Bulldogs afloat on what Daniels admitted was not their finest effort.
“He had maybe one of the best games he’s had this year,” Daniels said. “He moved the puck really well out of our own end.”
The Bulldogs will again face off with the Nanooks on Nov. 23 at 7:07 p.m., to cap Ferris State’s six-game WCHA home stand. It is the final game inside Ewigleben in 2013 for the Bulldogs.