Big Rapids, Mich. - Nationally top-ranked Minnesota State scored once in each of the first two periods of action and held off a late comeback attempt to pull out a 2-1 win over the Ferris State University men's ice hockey team on Friday (Jan. 16) night before a near-sellout crowd of 2,300 fans t the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids.
The Mavericks pulled out the road win to open the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) weekend series against the Bulldogs, who were playing their first home contest of the 2015 calendar year. The game also was the first of four-straight matchups for FSU against the league-leading Mavericks.
In a battle that pitted a pair of returning NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago, it was MSU that struck first. Jordan Nelson scored his third goal of the year at 7:53 of the opening frame to give the Mavericks the early advantage. His goal was assisted by both Jon Jutzi and Casey Nelson, who tallied their second and 14th assists of the year, respectively.
The 1-0 score stood up until late in the second period when Minnesota State pushed its advantage to two goals on a lamplighter from Casey Nelson for his sixth goal of the campaign at 14:55 of the middle frame. Chase Grant earned his fourth helper this season on the marker.
Ferris State got on the board in the third period when sophomore forward Kyle Schempp tallied his fifth assist of the year at 12:27 of the final period to cut the margin back to a single goal. His goal was assisted by junior Simon Denis, who picked up his eighth assist of the year.
The Bulldogs had potential chances to tie the contest up down the stretch, but could not come up with the equalizer as the Mavericks prevailed.
Senior goaltender CJ Motte made 26 saves in net for Ferris State, including a game-high 15 in the middle period as Minnesota State posted a final 28-25 advantage in total shots. Motte also had five saves in the first period and added six more in the third.
Meanwhile, Minnesota State's Stephon Williams took the victory in net with 24 saves. He stopped eight shots in period one followed by seven in the second and nine in the third.
Ferris State was called for four penalties totaling eight minutes in the box. However, the Mavericks went 0-of-4 on the power play as the Bulldogs were perfect on the penalty kill.
On the opposite side, the Mavericks were whistled for two infractions totaling four minutes overall. FSU was held scoreless in two tries with the man-advantage.
Ferris State dropped to 11-11-1 overall and 8-6-0 in the WCHA with the setback while Minnesota State improved to 16-4-1 overall and 13-2-1 in league action with the triumph.
The two teams will wrap up the weekend series on Saturday (Jan. 17) night at the Ewigleben Ice Arena with puck drop set for 7:07 p.m. (ET). Limited tickets remain and can be purchased online at StarTickets.com or by calling 1-800-585-3737. For additional information, please visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
Following this weekend's series at home, FSU will have a bye week before returning to action on Jan. 30-31 when FSU pays the return visit to Mankato (Minn.) to face the Mavericks in another two-game set.