With the two top college hockey teams in the state battling for bragging rights this weekend, the Bulldogs didn’t have much to brag about after Michigan took a convincing weekend sweep.
The 19th-ranked Bulldogs held a 2-0 lead in the second period of the first contest of the series at Michigan’s Yost Ice Arena on Friday, but a 3-0 rally by the seventh-ranked Wolverines left Ferris trailing 3-2 at the end of the second period.
The score would stand after the final period to give Michigan the series-opening win in front of a sellout crowd.
Freshman left wing Garrett Thompson notched his fourth goal of the season to put the Bulldogs on the board first, while junior defenseman Chad Billins accounted for the other Ferris goal with a power-play goal in the opening minutes of the second period.
“I thought we played well tonight…but I felt we were lacking in the second period and I also felt like we took way too many penalties and it really taxed our team,” said Ferris head coach Bob Daniels.
The Wolverines went 0-6 on power play chances while Ferris went 1-2 with Billins’ goal.
Senior goaltender Pat Nagle recorded a season-high 37 saves in the contest, topping his previous high-mark of 36 saves in a Nov. 6 1-1 overtime tie against Miami (Ohio). Nagle and senior defenseman Zach Redmond were recently announced as candidates for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award for college hockey’s top player.
The Bulldogs headed back home on Saturday to a raucous sell-out crowd of 2,493 at Ewigleben Ice Arena for the final game of the series, but the Wolverines quieted the crowd quickly with three unanswered goals in the first period.
Nagle was replaced by junior goaltender Taylor Nelson after a short-handed goal by Michigan’s Scooter Vaughan just 2:01 into the second period. Daniels said he hated to have to pull Nagle in front of the crowd with the success that Nagle has had this season, but he felt he couldn’t wait until the end of the period.
Ferris posted its only goal of the contest in the third period, as senior left wing Mike Fillinger redirected the puck past Michigan’s Matt Hunwick early in the third period. The goal was one of three Ferris goals that were reviewed in the contest, with two of the three goals being overturned.
The Wolverines posted two more goals in the final stanza to push the final score to 6-1, giving Michigan a 10-3-1 record against Ferris in the last 14 matchups between the two teams.
“There’s not a lot you can say after a night like tonight where we didn’t play very well,” said Daniels after the game. “We’re a better team than what we showed tonight and I don’t want to have one bad game dismantle everything that we’ve worked hard to have this season.”
The Bulldogs slid from third to fourth in the CCHA after the weekend sweep, now sitting only two points ahead of fifth-placed Alaska.
Ferris will now head to the Upper Peninsula this weekend to square off against Northern Michigan in a two-game series. The Wildcats and Bulldogs face-off for the first time this season and it’s the first meeting since Northern Michigan defeated Ferris 5-4 in overtime in the semifinals of the 2010 CCHA Championship Tournament. Northern went on to lose against Michigan in the championship game. n