Plymouth, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's ice hockey squad returned to the ice for the first time in 2018 as the Bulldogs prepared for the second half of the season by competing against the United States National Under-18 Team in an exhibition contest on Tuesday (Jan. 2) at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth.
The game represented the first action following an extended holiday break for Ferris State and served as a tune-up for their next regular-season action coming up this weekend to start the second half of the year.
The U.S. National Team Development Program squad, which is guided by former FSU hockey player and alum Seth Appert, who's in his first season with USA Hockey, jumped in front en route to a 5-1 victory over the Bulldogs.
Team USA has a total of 17 players currently on its roster that have been named to the National Hockey League's Central Scouting list of players to watch for the 2018 NHL Draft, including potentially five or six projected first-round picks.
Prior to the exhibition tilt, the Bulldogs held a special alumni and Blueline Club pregame reception inside USA Hockey Arena with both FSU head coach Bob Daniels and Seth Appert taking time to speak to the fans. In addition, another former FSU alum and current Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, who played with Appert at Ferris State, was also in attendance.
The game was one of 15 slated to be played this season by the US Under-18 Team against collegiate competition, including one of 11 matchups against NCAA Division I schools.
The US Under-18 team struck first at 8:07 of the opening period when Oliver Wahlstrom scored at even-strength with an assist from Jack Hughes and Joel Farabee on a loose puck in front of the FSU net.
Team USA increased its lead to 2-0 early in the middle period as K'Andre Miller put a rebound try into the back of the net only 1:47 into the period. The even-strength tally was aided by Spencer Stastney and Gavin Hain.
Miller later added his second goal of the evening late in the second on a shot at 15:11, which put the US Under-18 Team in front by three goals. His second marker was assisted by Jack DeBoer. It was followed soon after by a short-handed tally from Patrick Giles at 18:38 of the period with the assist to both Hain and Miller.
Early in the third period, the U18's Mattias Samuelsson earned his first point of the night on a goal only 22 seconds into the final period. Jonathan Gruden and Ty Emberson posted assists on the marker.
Ferris State finally got on the road with 2:48 remaining in the contest when senior forward Andrew Dorantes tallied the first FSU marker on a full-strength opportunity. The Bulldogs' Jasen Fernsler and Zach Yoder garnered the assists.
Overall, Team USA outshot FSU 37-27 for the game. The Bulldogs went 0-of-5 on the power play with the U18 team failing to score on four power play chances.
In goal, FSU junior Darren Smith finished with 32 saves for the Bulldogs while Drew DeRidder also went the distance and made 26 saves for the US Under 18 squad in earning the exhibition win.
The Bulldogs return home to resume Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) play this weekend inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena against the Bowling Green Falcons. The two games take place on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 6-7, in Big Rapids. Saturday's opener is set for a 5:07 p.m. (ET) start with Sunday's finale at 3:07 p.m. (ET).