Hockey remains in fifth place

Bulldogs split home series with fourth place Bemidji

Bulldog hockey split for the 12th time this season in their home series against the Bemidji State Beavers.

The Bulldogs’ (12-14-4) split comes in a very crucial series, which could have a lasting impact on the playoff picture in the CCHA playoffs. A tight 3-2 win against the Beavers (12-13-5) on Friday, followed by a 6-2 loss on Saturday, leaves the Bulldogs one point behind the Beavers in the hunt for home ice.

The Bulldogs’ close contest opened with a late goal from the Beavers to put the team down by one with 30 seconds left in the first period. Less than a minute into the second, senior forward Jason Brancheau tied the game at one.

Antonio Venuto celebrates his short-handed goal during Ferris’ 3-2 victory over Bemidji on Friday. Venuto’s goal was his sixth of the season. Photo by: Jordan Wilson | Torch Photographer

Scoring went silent for another period until senior forward Antonio Venuto took over on the Bulldog penalty kill and scored shorthanded for a 2-1 lead. Ferris gave up another Beaver goal, which tied the game again at 2-2. 

With overtime looming, junior forward Mitch Deelstra went one-on-one with Bemidji goaltender Mattias Sholl and netted the game winner with 46 seconds left in the third for a final score of 3-2.

Head coach Bob Daniels discussed being able to score first against a “stingy” defensive team like Bemidji.

“They’re a tough team to come back from because they position themselves so well defensively,” Daniels said. “That was a huge goal when Brancheau scored our first goal off the face off and being able to go in and get the rebound. I really felt that was a big, big goal for us. So then from there, we never trailed again, which is good.”

The Bulldogs had a bad track record late last season. The team often let in late goals, which caused them to lose the game, or lost their third period lead and where unable to get it back.

Deelstra spoke on being able to flip the narrative and win it late for the Bulldogs on Friday night.

“I’ve been here for the last couple of years,” Deelstra said. “We’ve had a couple late goals… and you know how much of a dagger it is late in the game heading into Saturday. It kind of stings a little bit more, knowing that you were right in that game then [losing] it in the last 45 seconds to a minute, so it was really good to get that.”

The Bulldogs’ hopes of keeping the fourth place spot through the weekend were dashed following a shelling of a revenge match for the Beavers.

After going down 2-0 in the first period, the game started off poorly for the Bulldogs. Freshman defenseman Travis Shoudy cut into the Beaver lead with under a minute left in the second period to make it 2-1. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the game unraveled in favor of the Beavers when they scored three goals in under two minutes to make the game 5-1. Following their tough second period, sophomore goaltender Noah Giesbrecht was pulled for junior goaltender Logan Stein.

To start the third period, senior defenseman Brenden MacLaren scored on a powerplay opportunity to put the game at 5-2. With 50 seconds left in the game, the Beavers put an emphasis on their victory with another goal, finalizing a 6-2 loss for the Bulldogs.

Daniels discussed Bemidji’s rejuvenated play and commented on the Bulldogs’ faults.

“[Bemidji] got beat last night, so they had a lot more jump than we had tonight,” Daniels said. “When we fell behind, it just didn’t feel like we had the legs for whatever reason. We looked tired and it showed… They were much more tenacious than we were.”

Splits have been the norm for the Bulldogs this season. As mentioned before, this is their 12th split. The Bulldogs have only swept one team and got six out of six points. On the other end of the spectrum, the Bulldogs have only been swept once. 

The Bulldogs started the weekend a point behind Bemidji and ended it a point behind Bemidji. This series could have been a turning point in their campaign for home ice in the CCHA playoffs. With four regular season games left, there is still a chance. However, the Bulldogs must make the top four in order to receive home ice.

Ferris will go on the road this weekend to play the Northern Michigan Wildcats in their penultimate series. They will return home on Feb. 27 and Feb. 28 to play the Lake Superior State Lakers in what could be their final home series of the season.