In the Northern Michigan locker room, goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom’s stick lay wasted, broken into three pieces in a garbage can.
It was that kind of night for the Wildcats.
A 7-1 hockey victory never felt more like a close game. Or at least that’s how Ferris head coach Bob Daniels viewed the series-opening win over Northern Michigan University on Feb. 7.
“I did feel like we got two, kind of fortuitous bounces at critical moments in the game,” Daniels said. “I thought it was a much closer game than [7-1].”
The Bulldogs were tied after one period of play at 1-1. Sophomore forward Kenny Babinski deflected in a changeup from junior defenseman Jason Binkley on the powerplay, only to have the lead negated by Northern Michigan’s Erik Higby four minutes later.
Where the lucky bounces factored in was early in the middle frame of the game. When a Wildcat defensemen attempted to clear a puck on the penalty kill, sophomore forward Matt Robertson put his stick down and the puck bounced off it and between the legs of Northern Michigan goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom.
Less than two minutes later, senior forward Garrett Thompson picked off a clearing attempt and broke away on Dahlstrom. One slick move later, it was 3-1 Ferris, and the Wildcats were unable to claw back.
Freshmen forward Chad McDonald followed suit with his third shorthanded goal of the season to cap the second period scoring with 1:13 remaining.
The previous weekend, Ferris had their second half bye week, which was much needed after two physical road trips to Minnesota State and Michigan Tech subsequently.
Daniels kept the Bulldogs off the ice for much of the first week, and the rest reenergized the nationally ranked No. 5 and WCHA first place team.
“This week we had as good of a week of practice as we’ve had in some time,” Daniels said. “We were fresh again, we had a lot of jump, and sometimes it doesn’t carry into games but all indications were that we were really looking forward to playing again.”
Ferris again got off to the races when sustained pressure allowed sophomore defenseman Brandon Anselmini to rifle the Bulldog’s fifth goal of the night past Dahlstrom, 4:05 into the third period.
“It was great work by [Kyle] Schempp and [Jared VanWormer] down low and it was a nice rebound by their goalie and I just capitalized,” Anselmini said.
Following the goal, Dahlstrom was yanked, and freshmen Derek Dun took over the crease with even less success.
Dun faced five shots and let in two, including a Cory Kane breakaway snipe for the senior forward’s sixth of the year, and Thompson’s second of the night on a badly handled rebound.
With under a minute to play, Northern Michigan began to get cranky. Junior forward Ryan Kesti was tossed following a contact to the head game misconduct.
With little more event, remaining time elapsed and Northern Michigan was able to bow out of the hostile environment.
Senior forward Andy Huff got the call on the top line with the skilled Kane and Thompson, with which he reaped the benefits, pushing him to six points in the last four games with his three assists on the night.
“It feels great. Its good to get points, but it’s better to get the win,” Huff said. “Obviously we’re really happy with getting both”
The Bulldogs will get their final regular season shot at the Wildcats on Feb. 8 at 7:07 p.m., on Brutus the Bulldog Unveiling night in Ewigleben.