Bulldogs Battle Back Late Before Falling Short In Series' Opener Against Bemidji State

Bulldogs Battle Back Late Before Falling Short In Series' Opener Against Bemidji State


Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team battled back late, but was not able to produce the equalizer as the Bulldogs suffered a hard-fought 2-1 setback to Bemidji State as the two squads opened a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) weekend series on Friday (Feb. 27) night at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids.

The visiting Beavers built a 2-0 lead with a single goal in each of the first two periods of action before Ferris State pulled within a score late in the final period. The Bulldogs then pulled the goalie for the final 1:10 of the contest and had opportunities late to knot the game up and force overtime, but were not able to find the net.

Ferris State and Bemidji State opened a key WCHA series in Big Rapids as the two teams met for the first time this year. With the win, the Beavers and Northern Michigan now lead the Bulldogs by four points, or two games, with three left to play in the regular season for the final first-round home ice spot in the upcoming WCHA Playoffs.

The Beavers struck first before a near sellout crowd of 2,149 Bulldog fans as they netted the game's first goal 16:55 into the opening frame. Cory Ward produced his ninth marker of the year off an assist from Charlie O'Connor as BSU took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

Bemidji State scored again in the final five minutes of the second period when Philip Brewer put the puck past FSU senior goaltender CJ Motte for his sixth lamplighter of the campaign. The goal at 15:33 of the middle period was assisted by John Parker and Nate Arentz, who tallied their fourth and ninth helpers of the year, respectively.

The Bulldogs, though, fought back in the third period to give themselves an opportunity to climb back from the 2-0 deficit. FSU outshot the Beavers 36-24 for the night, including 15-7 in the final period while attempting to knot the game up.

Ferris State finally got on the board at 16:45 of the third when freshman Tyler Andrew found the back of the net for his third collegiate goal. It was aided by sophomore Jared VanWormer and junior defenseman Simon Denis. VanWormer put the puck in front of the net on the pass for his eighth helper of the year with Denis recording his 10th assist this season.

Despite chances in the final minutes, however, Ferris State could not force overtime as BSU goaltender Michael Bitzer stood up to the challenge to improve to 13-9-2 on the year in net. He finished with 35 saves, including a game-best 14 in the final 20 minutes of action. Bitzer also had eight saves in the first period and 13 in the second.

On the FSU side, Motte netted 22 saves for the evening with 12 in the opening frame followed by three in the second and seven in the third. FSU was outshot 13-8 in the first period, but held a 13-4 edge in the middle frame along with the 15-7 margin in the final period of action.

Neither team was able to capitalize on the power play as both went 0-of-3 for the night. Overall, FSU had four penalties for eight minutes with BSU called three times for six minutes in the box.
Ferris State dropped to 14-19-1 on the year and 11-14-0 in the WCHA while Bemidji State improved to 15-14-4 overall and 11-10-4 in league action.

The two teams will wrap up the weekend set with another important game on Saturday (Feb. 28) night at the Ewigleben Ice Arena. A potential sellout crowd is expected and fans are encouraged to purchase tickets to watch the Bulldogs play their final regular-season home contest. Tickets are on sale at StarTickets.com or call 1-800-585-3737. For additional information, please visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.

Saturday's puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. (ET), but fans are also encouraged to arrive early as FSU will honor its senior class in a special pregame ceremony starting at 6:50 p.m. A group of six individuals will be honored in the annual event as they take part in their last home game in the regular season.