Big Rapids, MI - Nationally fifth-ranked Ferris State University capped a weekend home sweep of visiting Northern Michigan and recorded its third-straight victory as the Bulldogs skated to a 2-1 triumph before a sold out crowd on Saturday (Feb. 8) night in Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) play at FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena.
The Bulldogs, who posted a decisive 7-1 win in Friday night's series opener in Big Rapids, built a 2-0 lead against the Wildcats and held on for the win. The victory was FSU's 20th of the season as the Bulldogs improved to 20-6-3 overall and remained on top of the league standings with a 15-3-2 conference record.
Freshman forward Jared VanWormer opened the scoring for the Bulldogs only 3:44 into the contest as he notched his second goal of the season in the first period off a feed from junior forward Dominic Panetta along with sophomore Dakota Klecha. The assist was Panetta's fourth of the year while Klecha notched his first of the campaign.
The 1-0 lead stood thru the remainder of the first period and the entire second frame as a pair of injuries hampered the Bulldog lineup and shortened the bench. However, the FSU defensive end and junior goaltender CJ Motte were up to the task as the Bulldogs shutout the Wildcats for the opening two frames.
Ferris State pushed its lead to 2-0 at 4:21 of the final frame when senior center Cory Kane scored in front of the net for his second goal of the weekend. The original shot was fired by Klecha, who picked up his second assist of the game, and tipped near the net by VanWormer as the Bulldog freshman tallied his second point of the game before Kane scored the lamplighter.
The Wildcats, though, answered at 12:47 of the third period for their only goal of the night to trim the margin to 2-1 off the stick of Darren Nowick, who recorded his third marker of the year. Wade Epp tallied his fourth assist this year on the goal.
Northern Michigan pulled its goaltender for part of the final two minutes, but could not come up with the game-tying goal as the Bulldogs pulled out the win.
The Wildcats held a 30-23 edge in total shots for the game with 10 in the first, five in the second and 15 in the third. The Bulldogs netted five shots in period one with eight in the second and 10 over the final 20 minutes of action.
Neither team was successful on the power play as the Bulldogs finished 0-of-3 and the Wildcats were held in check on four opportunities with the man-advantage.
Overall, Ferris State had four penalties for eight minutes with Northern Michigan called three times for six minutes in the box.
Motte played the entire 60 minutes in net for the Bulldogs and made 29 saves, including a game-high 14 in the third period, while improving to 19-4-3 in net this season. Meanwhile, Mathias Dalhstrom played 58:37 between the pipes for the Wildcats and had 21 saves.
By virtue of his game-opening goal, VanWormer received the game's first star and Kane earned the second with his game-winner. Nowick picked up the third star for NMU.
The win was FSU's third over the Wildcats this campaign as Ferris State closed the regular-season series with a 3-0-1 mark against NMU. The two teams had previously played in Marquette back in November with the Bulldogs earning a victory and a tie before Friday night's decisive win.
With the victory, Ferris State also improved to 5-1-2 in the last eight outings against Northern Michigan and it marked the Bulldogs' 10th win at home this season.
Northern Michigan fell to 11-15-2 overall and 9-10-1 in league action this year with the setback.
Ferris State held onto at least a two-point lead over second place Minnesota State in the WCHA standings pending the outcome of the Mavericks' matchup with Bemidji State late Saturday night. FSU also owns two games in hand over Minnesota State with eight games left on the regular-season schedule.
Saturday's sellout represented the Bulldogs' third in the last four home games and came on the heels of a near-sellout for Friday's opener. The "Dawg Pound" student section was also sold out in what represented its 45th consecutive sellout for one of college hockey's most vocal student groups.
Ferris State hits the road next weekend for a two-game league series at Bemidji State on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 14-15) in Bemidji, Minn. The opening game gets underway on Friday at 8:37 p.m. (ET) with the finale on Saturday at 8:07 p.m. (ET).
The Bulldogs will return home on Feb. 21-22 to host Alaska-Anchorage inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena with both games set for 7:07 p.m. (ET) starts. Tickets for the weekend series can be purchased in advance thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office located inside the Ewigleben Sports Complex, online at StarTickets.com or by calling 1-800-585-3737. For more information, please visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.