Big Rapids, Mich. - The nationally fifth-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team capped off a big weekend sweep to increase its lead in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings as the Bulldogs beat Alaska Anchorage 5-3 before a sellout crowd of 2,490 fans on Saturday (Feb. 22) night inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena.
The Bulldogs scored three goals in the opening period and held off the Seawolves' charge in improving to 23-7-3 overall and 18-4-2 in league action. FSU had previously won Friday night's series' opener by a 4-2 count as the two teams squared off for the first time since 1988.
With the school's fourth capacity crowd in the last six contests on hand, Ferris State pushed its lead atop the WCHA standings to four points over second-place Minnesota State. Both teams have four games remaining in the regular season as the Mavericks will return to action next weekend.
Ferris State struck only 8:06 into Saturday's game as senior forward Garrett Thompson tallied his 14th goal of the campaign. He converted off a feed from junior forward Justin Buzzeo, who picked up his 16th assist of the year, with the second assist credited to freshman forward Kyle Schempp for his 15th of the year.
The lead grew to three goals at the end of the opening stanza as Ferris State added a pair of goals in the final five minutes of the first period. The first came from freshman forward Gerald Mayhew at 15:41 and marked his fourth of the season, including his second of the weekend, off an assist from senior Cory Kane.
Then, at 17:30, Kane recorded a goal of his own on a rush to the net and the unassisted score represented his 10th goal of the season.
The Seawolves finally cracked the scoring column 6:08 into the second period when Matt Bailey registered an even-strength goal for his 16th of the year with the assist given to Scott Allen.
However, Ferris State answered back only 30 seconds later when senior forward Andy Huff found the back of the net on the high glove side in a short-handed situation. The goal was his seventh of the season. Kane along with junior defenseman Jason Binkley both picked up the helpers for their 10th and 18th this campaign, respectively.
Bailey added his second goal of the night and 17th of the year at 14:26 of the middle frame on a Alaska Anchorage four-on-three power-play to trim the margin back to two goals. His second lamplighter of the evening was assisted by Austin Coldwell and Blake Tatchell and the 4-2 score in favor of the Bulldogs stood up thru the end of the second stanza.
The Seawolves wasted little time in making things interesting in the third period as they scored only 14 seconds into the period on a goal from Brett Cameron, who notched his seventh marker of the year. Bailey tallied his third point of the night with the first assist while Allen added his second of the evening and 10th assist of the season.
However, the Bulldogs managed to hold down the Seawolves the rest of the way and tacked on an empty-net goal from freshman Chad McDonald at 19:59 of the final period to account for the final score. His ninth goal of the year came off an assist from sophomore Kenny Babinski, who tallied his ninth helper to date.
Ferris State received 37 saves from junior goaltender CJ Motte in net as he improved to 22-5-3 overall this season with the triumph. He had 11 saves in the first period followed by a game-high 19 in the second and seven more in the third.
The Bulldogs needed Motte's performance in net as Alaska Anchorage had eight opportunities with the man-advantage, but managed to score only once. They also outshot the Bulldogs 40-31 for the night.
On the other end of the ice, Rob Gunderson earned the start in net for the Seawolves and made 26 saves, including 10 in both the first and third periods, while falling to 7-6-2 on the season.
Overall, the Bulldogs were called for 10 penalties totaling 20 minutes with Alaska Anchorage whistled seven times for 14 minutes in the sin bin. FSU was one-of-five on the power-play.
By virtue of his three-point night, Kane picked up the game's first star with Bailey earning the second for the Seawolves and Huff taking the third on the Bulldog side.
Alaska Anchorage fell to 15-13-4 overall and 11-11-4 in league action with two weekend losses. They had entered the weekend third overall in the WCHA standings, but dropped to fourth following Saturday's setback.
Ferris State moved to 12-1-1 overall on home ice with the victory and has yet to lose a conference home game this season inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena.
Saturday's sellout represented the Bulldogs' 15th since the second half of the historic 2011-12 campaign and the fourth in the last six games since the New Year. The "Dawg Pound" student section has also sold out each of the last 47 consecutive home contests.
This weekend's league home series also marked one of the final two home weekends for the Bulldogs in the regular-season prior to the WCHA Playoffs. FSU will host Lake Superior State in its final two regular-season outings on March 7-8 during "Senior Weekend" in Big Rapids with a special "Buy One, Get One Free" promotional offer available while supplies last.
Additionally, FSU has already clinched home ice for the opening round of the WCHA Playoffs. Ferris State will host an opponent to be determined in a best-of-three series set for March 14-16 with the winner advancing to the WCHA Final Five Championship on March 21-22 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
Tickets for both the final regular-season series along with the first round of the WCHA Playoffs are currently on sale now and can be purchased thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office, online at StarTickets.com or by calling 1-800-585-3737. For additional information, please visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com or call 231-591-2888.
Prior to the series against Lake Superior State, however, FSU will play its final regular-season road series as the Bulldogs travel to Fairbanks, Alaska, to face the Alaska Nanooks next Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28-March 1. Both games are scheduled for 11:07 p.m. (ET) starts.