Bulldogs split for eleventh time

Bulldogs shutout by Huskies, win in shootout

Ferris hockey started their two week home stretch with their 11th weekend split of the season, this time against Michigan Tech.

The Bulldogs (10-11-4 overall, 7-7-4 CCHA) dropped their first game at home since Dec. 10 in a 1-0 loss to the nationally ranked #14 Huskies (15-8-4 overall, 9-5-4 CCHA) before picking up a shootout win, which gave them some crucial points in the CCHA standings.

The first game of the Bulldogs’ home-stretch was a showcase of incredible goaltending. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they ended up on the wrong side of the battle.

Sophomore goaltender Noah Giesbrecht ceded one goal with 13 seconds left in the first period. This was the only goal given up the whole game. Huskies goaltender Blake Pietila snuffed out all Bulldog offense, and the Bulldogs were shutout for the second time this season.

Head coach Bob Daniels felt his forwards could have played better.

“As the game went on, I was a little frustrated with our forwards,” Daniels said. “I didn’t think we were heavy enough in the offensive zone or strong enough on pucks. Consequently, we had very few chances, and we weren’t drawing penalties.”

Daniels credited both the defensive core and Giesbrecht’s goaltending in what he described as a “choppy” game due to how many stoppages in play there were. There were 11 combined penalties between the teams, six of which went against Ferris. Neither team scored on the power play, however.

Noah Giesbrecht makes a save for the Bulldogs during their 1-0 loss to Michigan Tech. He recorded 33 saves during the loss and allowed one goal. Photo by: Dylan Rider | Opinions Editor

Because the Bulldogs were already a few points behind the Huskies before the game began, this Bulldog loss could be very consequential in the hunt for home ice in the CCHA playoffs.

Before the game began, it was announced that freshman forward Connor McGrath would be a scratch for the game. McGrath is tied third in goals in the Bulldogs’ roster.

Daniels gave his reasons for McGrath’s scratching in the loss.

“His scoring has dwindled as of late, and his play hasn’t been [the same]. It’s typical for freshmen. He obviously got off to a great start and has played well for us, but as of late that hasn’t been the case,” Daniels said.

 The Bulldogs’ second game of the series seemingly turned everything around, as a 3-3 shootout win brought out the comeback kids of the team.

The game showed early signs of being a repeat of the previous nights’ tilt when the Huskies began scoring late in the first, this time on junior goaltender Logan Stein. However, the Bulldogs struck back in the second when McGrath scored the equalizer the night after he was scratched.

The Bulldogs’ lead didn’t last long, though, as another tally from the Huskies put them down for the second time. Senior forward Jason Brancheau then tied the game up for the Bulldogs early in the third. Once again, this lead wouldn’t stick around for long, thanks to another Huskie goal. For the third time of the night, and his second time that night, Brancheau equalized the game with two minutes left.

An unsuccessful overtime period proved fruitless for either team. In the shootout, Stein confidently made the first save, while junior forward Stepan Pokorny recorded a goal. Stein made another save, while McGrath was unable to convert and win the shootout for Ferris. The Huskies were able to break past Stein on their last shot, however, with the game on his stick, junior forward Antonio Venuto proved clutch with a second and game winning goal in the shootout to pick up two points.

“It’s just consistency,” Brancheau said. “Show up to the rink everyday. Do the same stuff over and over again. And if everyone keeps doing that, we’re going to be a top 20 team here soon.”

Brancheau’s two-goal night boosted him to seven goals on the season, which is second on the team.

The Bulldogs will have another weekend at home next weekend against the #17 nationally ranked Minnesota State Mavericks, whom they swept earlier this year.