The good, the bad, and the ugly

Hockey splits with St. Thomas in penalty-ridden start to CCHA play

With 34 penalty minutes in two games, the Bulldogs escaped their CCHA opening weekend with a split.

Ferris (3-4-1) opened CCHA play against St. Thomas (2-6-0) and went to the penalty box 15 times between the two games. On Friday, Oct. 28, the Bulldogs had seven penalties but came away with a 3-2 win. They followed that up with eight penalties on Saturday in a 5-2 loss.

“We have to give ourselves a better chance to win by not taking penalties,” head coach Bob Daniels said following Saturday’s loss. “When you take [eight] penalties, that’s just too many. When you take that many, they’re eventually going to score.”

Friday’s contest saw the Bulldogs spend 17 minutes in the penalty box with seven penalties. The Tommies went 1-7 on the power play.

“I liked our penalty kill,” Daniels said. “They were 1-for-7, and they had a five-minute major power play, so that’s a lot of killing for us. It kind of took us out of our game. It overtaxed our guys. We can’t keep killing that many penalties. It’s been a theme of ours, and I hate to see us in the box as much as we were tonight.”

The Tommies scored first at 18:28 in the first period. They capitalized on a power play following a Drew Cooper penalty.

St. Thomas got another power play with ten seconds to go in the first period. Nick Nardecchia took a five-minute major for checking from behind, and that penalty ran into the second period.

Ferris not only killed that major penalty, but they also scored a short-handed goal, courtesy of Cade Kowalski’s first goal of the season. Ben Schultheis assisted on the game-tying goal at 2:08 in the second period.

“That was a big momentum shift,” Schultheis said. “They were all over us with the power plays, and that goal was big to take the momentum back.”

The Bulldogs went back to the penalty kill at 6:23 and again at 8:57, following a high-sticking penalty on Jacob Dirks and a slashing penalty on Brenden MacLaren. Logan Stein stood tall in net, and Ferris killed both penalties.

St. Thomas got another power play with four minutes to play in the second period after Matt Slick was called for a slashing penalty. Ferris killed the Tommies’ fifth power play of the night.

The Bulldogs got a power play with 51 seconds left in the second period. Jason Brancheau scored a power play goal with 40 seconds left in the period to give Ferris a 2-1 lead going into the third period. Luke Farthing and Stepan Pokorny assisted.

The Tommies evened the score at 7:54 in the third period when Stein saved a shot, but the rebound fell to a Tommy who got the puck past Stein.

At 15:55 in the third period, Ferris was penalized for having too many men on the ice. They killed their sixth penalty of the night to keep the game tied at 2-2 and force overtime.

Ferris ended the overtime at 2:2, thanks to Connor McGrath’s third goal of the season. The 3-2 overtime victory moved Ferris to 3-3-1.

Brad Marek fights for control of a puck during Ferris’ 3-2 overtime victory against St. Thomas in Friday’s CCHA opener. Photo courtesy of Ferris Athletics.

“I thought we played a good game,” McGrath said. “We competed hard and won a lot of puck battles. Overall, we were the better team tonight, but tomorrow we need to try to stay out of the box.”

Stein recorded 35 saves in the victory. They were outshot 37-22 by the Tommies and finished 1-3 on the powerplay but went 6-7 on the penalty kill.

“I think we could’ve competed a little harder,” Daniels said. “I’m not sure our compete level for the entire 63 minutes was where it needed to be. We’ll take the win.”

Ferris failed to stay out of the penalty box on Saturday, recording eight more penalties for 17 minutes. There was not a single 5-on-5 goal scored in the Bulldogs’ 5-2 loss.

St. Thomas went 3-for-5 on the power play, scored a short-handed goal and notched an empty net goal to seal their victory.

The Tommies got on the board first at 9:21 in the first period on the power play. They also scored a second power play goal in the first period at 15:49 to take an early 2-0 lead. Dallas Tulik was ejected for the Bulldogs at the end of the first period for a game misconduct call, forcing the Bulldogs to kill a five-minute major.

Ferris responded in the second with a power play goal of their own, courtesy of MacLaren. Pokorny and Brad Marek assisted.

St. Thomas answered back with a short-handed goal midway through the second period before Ferris scored another power play goal at 12:00. McGrath notched his second goal of the weekend. Blake Evennou and Travis Shoudy assisted.

Down 3-2 going into the third, the Bulldogs went to the box four more times in the final period. The Tommies got their third power play goal of the night at 11:27 in the third and then scored on an empty net at 17:04 to seal a 5-2 win.

Noah Giesbrecht took the loss in net for Ferris, making 16 saves. The Bulldogs outshot the Tommies 36-21 but were unable to overcome the penalties.

On the weekend, Ferris spent 34 minutes in the penalty box, including one five-minute major each night.

“That’s too many,” Daniels said. “Nobody can kill that long. It’s not going to work for you. It’s a very expensive lesson to learn.”

Ferris will head to Bemidji State this weekend before returning home to face Mercyhurst in an exhibition contest on Nov. 12.