Big Rapids, MI - The top-seeded Ferris State University men's ice hockey team left little doubt in game one of its Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) best-of-three home playoff series against eighth-seeded Bemidji State on Friday (March 14) night as the Bulldogs rolled to a 8-0 shutout inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena.
Ferris State, which captured the WCHA's regular-season championship, scored a pair of goals in each of the first two periods and then exploded for four more in the first 13:49 of the final frame to take game one of the weekend series in Big Rapids. It was the msot decisive postseason victory in school history for the Bulldogs.
Junior forward Justin Buzzeo and freshman forward Kyle Schempp each had a pair of goals while junior goaltender CJ Motte picked up 26 saves in earning his fourth shutout of the year and pushing his record to a nation-leading 25-7-3 overall record.
After a scoreless initial 10 minutes, Buzzeo struck first for the Bulldogs at 10:47 of the opening frame with his first goal of the night and 13th of the season. He streaked down the left wing and wired a shot past BSU goaltender Andrew Walsh to give FSU the early lead on a goal assisted by a pair of seniors in forward Garrett Thompson and captain Scott Czarnowczan.
Schempp then tallied his first marker of the evening at 12:33 of the initial period when he picked up a loose puck and found the back of the net for his ninth goal of the campaign. Senior forward Justin DeMartino recorded his 11th assist of the year on the second goal of the opening stanza.
Ferris State carried the 2-0 lead to the middle of the second frame. The Bulldogs then grabbed a 3-0 lead at 10:59 when junior defenseman Travis White put the puck on net from the point for his third goal of the season. It was assisted by sophomore forwards Kenny Babinski and Matt Robertson, who tallied their 10th and sixth assists of the year.
A little over five minutes later, the Bulldogs pushed the advantage to four goals as Buzzeo recorded his second goal of the game and 13th of the year at 16:15 of the middle frame. It was assisted by Thompson along with senior forward Cory Kane, who tallied his 14th helper.
The 4-0 lead stood up heading into the final period when the onslaught continued. Schempp registered his 10th goal of his rookie season and second lamplighter of the game at 5:23 when he deflected a shot on net from White. Both White and Czarnowczan each notched their second points of the game.
Just over 30 seconds later, the lead grew again as Kane also picked up his second point of the evening with a nice backhand shot in front of the net that went top shelf past Walsh. It was his 13th goal this season and assisted by senior forward Andy Huff along with freshman Gerald Mayhew. Huff totaled his 11th helper with Mayhew recording his 12th of the year.
Babinski then got into the scoring column at 12:47 of the third when he buried a shot into the net. It came on a cycle down low from freshman forward Chad McDonald to Robertson and then to Babinski, who notched his ninth goal of the season. The assist was Robertson's seventh of the year and second of the game with McDonald earning his 10th helper this season.
Finally, the Bulldogs tacked on one final goal at 13:49 when Huff picked up his 10th goal of the sason by sniping a shot to the high-glove side off a dish from Kane. He garnered his 14th assist with White picking up his fourth of the season on the final goal.
Overall, the Bulldogs had nine players pick up two points or more in the contest, including three each from both Kane and White. Buzzeo, Schempp, Thompson, Czarnowczan, Huff, Babinski and Robertson all had two points each as well. In all, the Bulldogs placed 12 different players in the scoring column.
Motte had 26 total saves to hold onto the shutout as he made seven saves in the opening period followed by 10 in the second and nine in the third. On the opposite end of the ice, Walsh allowed all eight Bulldog goals and stopped 15 shots before giving way the final 6:11 to Jesse Wilkins, who did not face any shots.
The Beavers held a 26-23 edge in total shots and both teams were called for only three penalties totaling six minutes each.
Both teams also finished 0-of-3 with the man-advantage on the power play as all eight Bulldog goals came at even-strength.
By virtue of his two goals, including the game-winner, Buzzeo claimed first star of the game honors. Schempp was the second star with a pair of goals of his own while Motte received the third star on the heels of the shutout victory. Motte also tied former FSU standout goaltender Pat Nagle for second place on the school's all-time victory list by recording the 45th win of his career.
Ferris State moved to 26-9-3 on the season with the win and the Bulldogs' 26 wins to date this year are the most in the country and also matched the Bulldogs' historic 2011-12 squad that reached the NCAA Frozen Four and the national championship game for the second-most victories in a single-campaign in school history.
BSU fell to 10-20-7 this season with the setback and the Bulldogs have now also won four of five meetings versus the Beavers to date this campaign.
With the win, Ferris State also improved to 14-2 all-time in postseason home contests at the Ewigleben Ice Arena. FSU moved to 15-1-1 on home ice this season, which now includes a 14-0-1 record in Big Rapids against WCHA opponents.
The 8-0 triumph was the Bulldogs' most decisive victory since the school's first CCHA Championship team in 2002-03 posted a 10-1 home win over Bowling Green on Oct. 18, 2002. It marked the third time in which FSU has scored seven goals or more this season as the Bulldogs opened the year with a 7-4 win at Colgate on Oct. 5 and later picked up a 7-1 home win over Northern Michigan on Feb. 7.
As part of the evening's activities, Bulldog representatives were also officially handed the WCHA's prestigious MacNaughton Cup at the first intermission for winning the league's regular-season crown.
The two teams will meet again in game two on Saturday (March 15) evening at the Ewigleben Ice Arena as the Bulldogs try to close out Bemidji State. The puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. (ET) with the deciding game three, if necessary, on Sunday (March 16) beginning at 5:07 p.m. (ET).
The winner of this weekend's playoff series advances to the WCHA Final Five Championship next Friday and Saturday (March 21-22) at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
Tickets for Saturday's game can be purchased thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office located inside the Ewigleben Sports Complex, which will open at noon on Saturday. They can also be bought online at StarTickets.com or call (800) 585-3737. More information can be found at FerrisStateBulldogs.com or call (231) 591-2888.