Bulldog hockey fell to the Western Michigan Broncos on the road on Thursday, Oct. 12 before returning home and capturing a shootout win on Friday, Oct. 13.
The Bulldogs (1-2-1, 0-0-0 in conference) faced off against the Broncos (1-0-1, 0-0-0 in conference). The first matchup ended with the Broncos winning 6-4 and continuing their winning streak. The game at Ferris resulted in a 3-3 tie on the scoring sheet, although in the shootout, Ferris came out on top 4-3.
Following the upset victory, head coach Bob Daniels shared his thoughts on how they played.
“I thought coming in here today, we really had to ramp things up from the standpoint of being strong on our sticks and heavier along the wall,” Daniels said. “The guys adjusted very well to not only the intensity but the speed of Western Michigan.”
Daniels felt his team had a good amount of “physicality” in both games against Western Michigan.
In their first road contest of the season, Ferris got off to a slow start and the Broncos capitalized scoring two first period goals.
The Bulldogs answered back with a goal from junior forward Nick Nardecchia. The Broncos scored two goals every period while Ferris stayed behind but featured goals from senior forward Jacob Dirks, senior forward Stephan Pokorny, and senior forward Antonio Venuto.
The game ended in a 6-4 scoreline favoring Western Michigan and continuing their nine-game winning streak against the Bulldogs.
Junior goaltender Noah Giesbrecht, who stopped 42 of 48 shots, believed the team trended in the right direction during the matchup at Lawson ice arena.
“They had us on our toes on the first, but I feel like we just needed a little to settle down,” Giesbrecht said. “I thought we moved towards the right direction. The bounces just weren’t going our way.”
The Bulldogs traveled back home for the second game of the series. And despite being the underdogs, they came out hot in the first period scoring two goals from sophomore forward Tyler Schleppe and junior forward Kaleb Ergang.
The hot start fizzled out in the 2nd period as the Broncos scored three goals in the period, two of the three being on power-plays. Ferris came back to tie late in the third period with a goal from senior forward Jason Brancheau.
Following a fruitless overtime, the game went to a shootout. Ferris had four chances to put the Broncos away and finally did so with a goal by freshman forward Luigi Benincasa. Earlier, Benincasa missed the game-winning shot at the end of overtime. The freshman forward shared his rollercoaster of emotions.
“I was pretty mad about it, but I just had to try to clear my head,” Benincasa said. “I was fortunate enough to get a turn to shoot and end up getting redemption on that”.
Benincasa has played in three out of the four games so far this season and has accumulated three assists in his freshman campaign.
Western has had Ferris’ number for years as they have beaten them nine times in a row, a streak that started back in 2018. Western Michigan has scored 43 goals in those games to Ferris’ 16. Heading into the season, the Broncos were ranked #12 in the country after coming off an exit in last year’s NCAA regional semifinals.
Despite the losing streak, Daniels remained unmoved by any stats going against his team.
“I don’t really worry about streaks, whether they’re winning or losing, I don’t think that was ever mentioned in the locker room,” Daniels said. “We have a healthy amount of respect for Western Michigan. We take more from the win tonight than anything that happened since 2017”.
Part of their success has to be attributed to senior goaltender Logan Stein who saved 27 out of the 30 shots Western had. He especially came up big in the penalty shootout saving five out of the eight shots.
“I played 65 minutes of hockey,” Stein said. “My legs were a little tired but you just gotta take it shot by shot.”
It was Stein’s first appearance of his senior campaign, and the least amount of goals Ferris has allowed so far this season in a game.
The Bulldogs’ next game will be an exhibition match against Ferris’ longtime rival Grand Valley on Oct. 20 at 7:07 p.m.