Junior goaltender C.J. Motte makes 32 saves for Bulldogs

Junior goaltender C.J. Motte made 32 saves for the Bulldogs

Big Rapids, Mich. - The nationally seventh-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team kept its Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Regular-Season Championship hopes alive as the Bulldogs opened the final weekend of league play with a 2-1 triumph over Lake Superior State on Friday (March 7) night inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena.

The Bulldogs entered the weekend opener tied atop the league standings with Minnesota State at 38 points each. FSU picked up two more points by virtue of the victory and can earn at least a share of the league's regular-season crown with a win over the Lakers on Saturday.

Minnesota State also won on Friday night, beating Michigan Tech 3-0 with three goals late in the final period. If both teams are tied in the standings following Saturday night's action, they would share the regular-season crown.

Ferris State opened the scoring late in the initial frame as senior forward Cory Kane tallied the first goal of the night on a Bulldog power-play at 14:25 of the opening frame. His 12th goal of the year was assisted by senior captain Scott Czarnowczan along with junior defenseman Jason Binkley as the two blueliners recorded their 14th and 19th assists of the campaign, respectively. Kane's power-play lamplighter came on a strong drive to the net with the puck sliding past the goal line.

The Bulldogs pushed the lead to two goals 9:47 into the second period when freshman forward Kyle Schempp scored the eventual game-winner off assists from sophomore forward Dakota Klecha and senior forward Justin DeMartino. His eighth goal of the season was aided by Klecha's third helper of the campaign while DeMartino notched his 10th assist this year. DeMartino fed the puck to Klecha, who took the shot which hit Schempp crashing the net.

However, Lake Superior State struck back a little over two minutes later when Colin Campbell picked up his 13th goal of this season off an assist from Dan Radke, who netted his 20th assist. The shot came off a faceoff draw won by the Lakers with the shot funneling between the legs of Bulldog junior goaltender CJ Motte.

That was as close as the Lakers could come though as Motte shut the door the rest of the way and neither team was able to score over the final 28 minutes of the contest.

Ferris State held a 44-33 edge in total shots as the Bulldogs tallied a game-high 18 in the middle stanza and 17 more in the third after being limited to nine in the opening 20 minutes of action. LSSU had 12 shots in each of the first two frames with nine in the final third period of play.

Motte tallied his nation-leading 23rd win of the year in net by making 32 saves and allowing only a single goal. He improved to 23-7-3 overall and had 12 stops in the the first period followed by 11 in the second and nine in the third.

Kevin Kapalka took the loss in net for the Lakers despite making 42 saves in the game. He dropped to 9-8-1 with the setback in the weekend opener.

The game featured a total of 16 penalties called as the Bulldogs were whistled seven times for 14 minutes and the whistle was blown on the Lakers nine times for 18 minutes in the box. FSU finished one-of-five on the power play with LSSU held scorless in three tries with the man-advantage.

By virtue of his game winner, Schempp claimed first star of the game honors. Motte was the second star and Kane earned the third after picking up the opening goal to increase his team-leading point streak to nine consecutive games.

Ferris State improved to 24-9-3 overall and 19-6-2 in league action with the triumph while LSSU fell to 16-18-1 overall and 12-15-0 in the WCHA. The win was FSU's third over the Lakers this campaign following an earlier regular-season sweep in Sault Ste. Marie on Dec. 6-7. LSSU entered Friday's opener battling for a potential berth in the conference tournament.

The two teams will meet again in the regular-season finale on Saturday night starting at 7:07 p.m. (ET) in Big Rapids. The Bulldogs' five seniors will be recognized before the weekend finale with a FREE Senior Autograph session and Skate With The Dawgs after the game. This year's senior class includes Czarnowczan along with forwards Garrett Thompson, Andy Huff, Kane and DeMartino.

Fans can purchase tickets for Saturday's final regular-season game by visiting the FSU Athletics Ticket Office located inside the Ewigleben Sports Complex. Bulldog fans can also purchase all regular-priced tickets in advance 24 hours a day, seven days a week online at StarTickets.com or by calling 1-800-585-3737. The ticket office will open at noon on Saturday.

Besides this weekend's home series versus LSSU, the Bulldogs have also clinched home ice for the opening round of the WCHA Playoffs and tickets are currently on sale as well. 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.