A three goal, third period surge was not enough for Ferris hockey on Sat. Nov. 20, as the Bulldogs fell to Northern Michigan 7-6 and moved to 4-10 on the season.
“I thought we played exceedingly well today,” head coach Bob Daniels said on the team’s performance. “When we made a mistake, we just found a way to make a big one.”
The beginning of Saturday’s contest heavily contrasted from the night before. The opening minutes went by with minimal stoppages and zero penalties from either team. It was at 7:32 where the Bulldogs struck the scoreboard first thanks to a one-on-two goal from sophomore Mitch Deelstra.
Unfortunately, the scoring flow from Friday was nearly identical in game two. Nearly five minutes later, the Wildcats answered courtesy of a goal from Mack Byers.
Despite the equalizer, Ferris State’s offense continued to put shots on net. On their record 19th shot on goal of the period, senior Justin Michaelian found winger Dallas Tulik on a saucer pass between two defenders. Tulik then put the puck past Northern Michigan goaltender Rico DiMatteo to give the ‘Dawgs a 2-1 lead before the first period end.
When asked about the goal scoring from the game, Coach Daniels said it was one of the best all season.
“Earlier in the year, it seemed like there were nights we could not get out of our end of the rink. Tonight, we had no issue and possessed the puck in their end.”
The second period began with a big opportunity on the power play. With a few seconds before even strength, senior Ethan Stewart netted his third goal of the season off a rebound.
While the Bulldogs led by two goals early in the second, the Wildcats didn’t back down due to their game one success coming from behind. Northern Michigan used two perfectly executed shots to score the game’s next two goals and tie up the game. Slightly after the third Wildcat goal, Coach Daniels decided to put in goaltender Logan Stein after starting with Roni Salmenkangas.
“At that point, we had given up like three goals on elven shots,” Coach Daniels said. “I’m not putting that on Roni. I just thought we could have been a little better at keeping the puck out of the net.”
The chance did not spark the Bulldogs as anticipated. With under five minutes remaining in the period, the Wildcats scored two goals and took a 5-3 advantage heading to the locker room.
Coming into the third period, the Bulldogs opened with a one-man advantage. Despite putting up three quality shots on net during the two-minutes, Ferris State came up empty. However, the Bulldogs responded a few minutes later with their first third period goal of the weekend from freshman Nico DeVita.
With the lead cut to just one, the ‘Dawgs brought the crowd back into the game. Numerous chants and intense plays created a loud environment that erupted when a Wildcat penalty was announced. The Bulldogs found many chances on goal during the power play, but one missed chance that leaked behind the Bulldog defense proved costly. The Wildcats proved their strength in one-on-one scoring with a shorthanded goal from Hank Cron to give the ‘Cats a 6-4 advantage.
Coach Daniels’ squad had been in this scenario before. In games they trailed by two in third period, the Bulldogs were unable to force overtime in any of the three chances this season. In this case, there is a first time for everything. With 3:03 to play in regulation, a spinning backhanded shot from Sam Skinner found the back of the net thanks to a favorable deflection off a Northern Michigan skate.
Trailing with just under a minute to go, Coach Daniels decided to take a chance and pull goaltender Logan Stein to try and find the equalizer. Thanks to a Northern Michigan timeout, Ferris State was able to change lines and draw up a play off a goal-side faceoff. On the ensuing puck drop, Brendan Michaelian fired a shot off the Northern goaltender and was rebounded into the goal by brother Justin Michaelian. The final 30 seconds of regulation would end with the game tied 6-6.
Looking back at the game-tying goal, Coach Daniels said the most important part of the play happened before the shot was even taken.
“Before that play could work, (Bradley) Marek had to win the draw. If he doesn’t get that faceoff, the play doesn’t work.”
The game would continue into a three-on-three overtime period, in which started with both teams setting up great initial opportunities. In the end, Northern’s finesse would win out on a game-winner by Michael Van Unen.
“I thought we were pretty good in just about every component of the game,” Coach Daniels said in his postgame press conference. “I was really impressed and proud of them.”
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs finished with two season bests from the contest. The offense recorded their highest shot count of the season at 44 shots, while the defense allowed the lowest opponent total of just 18 shots. Justin Michaelian and Mitch Deelstra earned two of the game’s “three star” performances.
Ferris State will next travel face Michigan Tech in Houghton on Sep. 26th and 27th. For more information, visit www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com.