Game Day Central
Billins | Daniels | Nelson
Big Rapids, Mich.- The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team extended its unbeaten streak to 12-straight games as the Bulldogs swept past the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday evening (Feb. 11) with a 5-1 victory at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids. The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) tilt was played in front of a sold out and enthusiastic crowd of 2,490 fans and televised live by Comcast across the region.
The win gives the nationally fifth and sixth-ranked Bulldogs a 20-8-4 overall ledger with a 14-6-4 conference mark. Ferris State is the first NCAA Division I team this season to reach the 20-win mark and is now 9-0-3 in its last 12 outings. Also, the Bulldogs have yet to lose in the New Year.
Additionally, the Bulldogs' 12-game unbeaten streak is tied for the second-longest streak in program history. FSU had a school-best 15-game unbeaten streak (12-0-3) in the 1990-91 campaign while the historic 2002-03 squad won 12 consecutive games at one point.
Following Saturday's action, Ferris State is currently atop the PairWise rankings, which is the statistical frame for potential NCAA tournament bids. The Bulldogs now have 47 points in the CCHA standings and lead second place Western Michigan by five points with four regular-season games remaining.
The loss dropped Notre Dame to 16-13-3 overall with an 11-10-3 record in the CCHA.
The Bulldogs scored two quick goals early in the first period to set the tone for the night. FSU rookie forward Nate Milam (Westland) opened up the scoring 4:33 into the first period with sophomore forward Cory Kane (Irvine, Calif.) notching the assist.
Less than a minute later, at 5:24, senior defensemen Chad Billins (Marysville) scored an even-strength goal to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead. Junior forward Kyle Bonis (Lindsay, Ontario) and freshman forward TJ Schlueter (St. Louis, Mo.) picked up the assists. After Billins' goal, Notre Dame switched goals as starter Steven Summerhays was replaced in goal by Mike Johnson.
Notre Dame responded with six seconds left in the first period as ND's Riley Sheahan scored a power-play goal to bring the Fighting Irish within a single goal going into the second period.
Ferris State's Kane recorded his second point of the game on a goal, making the score 3-1, at the 15:25 mark of the second period. Billins and freshman forward Andy Huff (Howell) received the helpers on the lone second period goal.
FSU senior forward Derek Graham (Schoolcraft) made the score 4-1 at the 9:47 mark of the third period on his first goal of the night. Freshman defenseman Jason Binkley (Powell, Ohio) had a hard slap shot from the blue line that Graham deflected past the ND goaltender. Sophomore defenseman Scott Czarnowczan (Macomb) also tallied an assist.
Finally, senior forward Jordie Johnston (Rosetown, Saskatchewan) scored the Bulldogs' fifth and final goal of the game 11:10 into the third. Junior forward Matthew Kirzinger (Leroy, Saskatchewan) and sophomore forward Garrett Thompson (Traverse City) were awarded with the power-play assists.
The physical match saw both teams taking 10 penalties for 20 minutes in the box. Both squads went 1-for-6 on the power-play.
Bulldog senior goalie Taylor Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) made 27 saves as he earned the win. On the other end of the ice, Summerhays received the loss as he allowed the Bulldogs' first two goals. Johnson made 25 saves and allowed the other three goals.
The Bulldogs are back in action at home again next weekend (Feb. 17-18) as they host the Bowling Green Falcons in CCHA action at the Ewigleben Ice Arena. The two-game series has a 7:05 p.m. (EDT) start time slated for both contests on Friday and Saturday.
FSU will help celebrate "Hockey Weekend Across America" as the Bulldogs' are offering a special BOGO (Buy One, Get One Free) offer for all full-priced adult tickets. The offer is not redeemable on gameday. Fans are encouraged to call (231) 591-2888 or visit www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com for more information.