The Ferris hockey team traveled back to Minnesota this weekend for the second time this season, except this go-around, they came home with a win.
The Bulldogs have been on the wrong side of their recent games, going without a win since Nov. 3. The Bulldogs went 0-9-1 through conference play since then, while being outscored 46-24. Although there were some signs of hope, the Bulldogs would take one step forward and two steps back each game, as four of their nine losses were only by one goal.
After a weekend off for the holiday break, the Bulldogs were back in action Friday, Dec. 28, and Saturday, Dec. 29, as they took on the Minnesota Gophers (5-6-4), who are a part of the Big Ten conference. This would be the second time this season the Gophers played a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) team, having just lost to the Minnesota State Mavericks a few weeks ago. As Ferris headed into the weekend, they looked to take advantage of a Minnesota team that has been struggling throughout the season as well.
For the first game of the weekend slate Friday, Dec. 28, both teams would get a quick start from the face-off. The Gophers got on the board in the first two minutes of the first period and the Bulldogs got the equalizer just a minute and a half after, which tied up the score 1-1. Later on in the period, Ferris freshman defenseman Cooper Zech gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead off of the power play, but the Gophers would do the same and score on the power play to tie the game again. With time winding down in the first, Ferris junior forward Jason Tackett would give the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead headed into the second. The momentum from the first period did not carry over, however, as the Gophers would tie the game four minutes into the period and then regain the lead just a few minutes after the equalizer.
The Bulldogs were blanked in the second period and looked like they were on the path for another loss. Their fourth straight loss was solidified by a hat trick scoring goal from Minnesota sophomore forward Scott Reedy.
With the season not going as planned, having a record of 4-14-1 after Friday’s game, the Bulldogs hoped to get some sort of life towards their season on Saturday. On Saturday, Dec. 29, just like the night before, the Gophers got out to a 1-0 lead and would maintain that lead all the way through into the second.
It was not until late into the period that a team found the back of the net, as Ferris senior forward Corey Mackin tied the game at one on a power play goal. The Gophers upped the pressure on Ferris freshman goaltender Roni Salmenkangas with a total of 18 shots in the second period but could only convert on one shot, which gave the Gophers the lead back as they headed into the third.
It only took the Bulldogs two minutes to tie the game up at two, after Ferris sophomore forward Coale Norris netted his fifth goal of the season. Mackin scored his second power play goal of the night with less than nine minutes left in the third, as Ferris went up 3-2. With strong play from Salmenkangas, who had 44 saves, the Bulldogs would hold on and get the 3-2 win. This was their first road win of the season and first win in 56 days.
The Bulldogs are back on the road next week, as the take on Alabama-Huntsville in WCHA play Friday, Jan. 4, and Saturday, Jan. 5.