Ferris State hockey began their season with a split against the Miami (OH) RedHawks on Friday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 8.
The Bulldogs (1-1-0, 0-0-0 in conference) pulled off a comeback to win 5-4 in overtime on Friday and then lost 5-2 on Saturday. The win on Friday is the latest overtime win the Bulldogs have had against the RedHawks (1-1-0, 0-0-0 in conference) since their last overtime win in 2021.
Following the win on Friday, head coach Bob Daniels explained the team’s thought process when they were building their comeback.
“We really had to work hard for our first goal,” Daniels said. “We get to 3-1. We had a good feeling, we were down, we were working. We did have a little bit of a hiccup and all of a sudden boom we come down, it’s 4-1. I give the guys a lot of credit though. I thought the second goal was huge for us. Once it got to 4-2, now we’re back in it and the guys are believing.”
Daniels felt that the game was “crazy” and described it as “three games in one.”
The Bulldogs started off their new season with a first period shellacking, letting up three goals in the starting frame. It took the Bulldogs a fresh start in the second for them to find the back of net, courtesy of senior forward Antonio Venuto. The RedHawks set the Bulldogs back again following a fourth goal in the second.
With the final frame in front of them, the Bulldogs went to work. Less than two minutes in, junior forward Kaleb Ergang scored, making it 4-2.
Following Ergang, not even a minute later, freshman forward Jack Mesic scored his first collegiate goal. After the two quick goals, scoring tapered off. In the waning seconds of third period, an icing call from a narrowly missed RedHawk empty net goal placed the Bulldogs in offensive zone.
With 20 seconds on the clock, Venuto scored the game tying goal and sending the Bulldogs to overtime.
As time expired in the extra frame, senior forward Jason Brancheau tapped the puck into a wide open net for the overtime win.
Brancheau, who mobbed and celebrated with his teammates following the goal, found a sweetness in the comeback win.
“It’s awesome,” Brancheau said. “Coming back from three goals in first game, it’s nice to have one of those games early. We kept on battling and came out on top.”
Brancheau added that of all of his teammates in the celebratory dog pile, he believed sophomore defenseman Travis Shoudy had it the worst as he “had him in a choke-hold down in the corner.”
Propelling the Bulldogs in this game, outside of the overtime winner, was Venuto. The Whitmore Lake, Mich. native’s two goal effort is his first multi-goal game in his career as a Bulldog.
Before the weekend slate, Daniels referred to the RedHawks as “hard-nosed” and “aggressive.” Venuto expanded on the idea and explained what it looked like for the players.
“Every time we had the puck, they were finishing hits on us,” Venuto said. “They make it hard in the corners for us. That’s something we can improve on tomorrow.”
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they would not be able to repeat their winning ways against the RedHawks. The Bulldogs fell behind during the first, but would keep themselves in the game with a goal from sophomore forward Connor McGrath to tie the game at 1-1. The game unraveled for the Bulldogs in the third period with two straight goals from the RedHawks. Junior forward Zach Faremouth enacted a measure of revenge as he scored a goal on the powerplay for a 3-2 game. However, the RedHawks scored twice more to sink the Bulldogs in a 5-2 loss.
Daniels expressed dissatisfaction in the loss while evaluating the changes made by the RedHawks between the two games.
“It’s a little frustrating that we lost, certainly by the score of 5-2,” Daniels said. “I thought we played better than that. Maybe deserved a little better. I thought they were heavier around both goals when it came down to the nitty gritty and battling around the nets. I thought they were more of a load in front of our goal than we were at their end.”
Daniels wishes to correct the penalties the team has taken while on the powerplay. The three penalties on the powerplay, according to Daniels, are things “we don’t want to do.”
The Bulldogs will have a quick turnaround following their series against the RedHawks. The team will face the Western Michigan Broncos, who they have lost eight straight games against, on the road on Thursday, Oct. 12 before finishing the series at home on Friday, Oct. 13 at 7:07 p.m.