Big Rapids, Mich. - The nationally 19th-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team returned to action following the holiday break and nearly pulled off a memorable comeback before falling to the 11th-ranked Cornell Big Red in a non-league matchup by a score of 5-3 at the Florida College Hockey Classic inside the Germain Ice Arena on Friday (Dec. 28) night in Estero, Fla.
The contest featured a rematch of the 2012 NCAA Midwest Regional Championship game won by the Bulldogs by a 2-1 count in Green Bay, Wis.
Ferris State struck first in Friday's contest before Cornell answered with four consecutive goals to make it a 4-1 game in the final period. However, the Bulldogs responded with two-straight goals to pull within a single goal, but the Big Red added an empty-netter at the end to account for the final margin.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring only 1:22 into the contest when freshman center Kenny Babinski scored his third goal of the season from behind the net after receiving a pass from senior wing Eric Alexander, who returned to the lineup after missing time with an injury, along with freshman defenseman Connor Schmidt.
However, Cornell was able to tie the game at a goal apiece late in the first period after Greg Miller won a faceoff draw and passed the puck to Brian Ferlin, who notched the tying goal with only 1.5 seconds remaining in the initial frame.
After the second period remained scoreless for most of the duration, Cornell took a 2-1 lead late in the frame when John McCarron scored his first goal of the season at 17:36 from between the two faceoff circles on a feed from Dustin Mowrey.
Ferlin scored his second goal of the night on the power-play early in the final period from the far side of the goal with Miller and Joel Lowry receiving the assists after only 2:59 of play in the last stanza.
Cornell stretched its lead to 4-1 just under three minutes later at 6:04 when the Big Red forced a turnover in the neutral zone, which allowed Lowry to find Miller, who shot the puck past FSU sophomore goaltender CJ Motte's shoulder.
The Bulldogs responded as freshman wing Dakota Klecha notched the Bulldogs' second goal of the night at 12:34 of the third period off a pass from sophomore defenseman Simon Denis, who took the initial feed from freshman defenseman Brandon Anselmini.
Then, just over three minutes later, Denis notched his fourth goal of the season from center ice at 15:09 to make the score 4-3 in favor of the Big Red. Sophomore wing Justin Buzzeo was credited with the Bulldog assist as well as Anselmini, which was his second helper of the night.
The Big Red sealed the victory with only 12 seconds remaining on the clock when Erik Axell scored Cornell's fifth and final goal of the night short-handed on the Bulldogs' empty net.
Motte played 48 minutes in net for the Bulldogs and registered 22 saves before giving way to freshman goaltender Charles Williams, who played the remaining 12 minutes of the game and made three saves in the setback. Andy Iles made 22 saves for Cornell on the opposite end of the ice. Overall, Cornell led the shots for the night by a count of 30-25.
The Bulldogs had three penalties for six minutes while the Big Red also had three penalties for a total of 17 minutes. Cornell was able to convert one out of three power-play opportunities and the Bulldogs were unable to find the back of the net on two power-play opportunities.
With the setback, the Bulldogs dropped to 7-8-3 on the season. Meanwhile, the Big Red improved to 7-3-2 overall and currently own a 3-3-2 record in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC).
The win was only the second for the Big Red in the all-time series' history between FSU and Cornell as the Bulldogs had owned a 3-1 advantage entering the game, which included last year's triumph in the regional championship game that enabled the Bulldogs to reach the Frozen Four for the first time in school history.
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Saturday (Dec. 29) afternoon in the Florida College Hockey Classic at Germain Arena in the third-place game against Minnesota-Duluth, which fell to Maine in the second semifinal on Friday night. The puck will drop at 4:05 p.m. (ET) on Saturday and the broadcast can be heard live on Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
Following the Florida College Hockey Classic, the Bulldogs will return home and resume CCHA play against Michigan State on Saturday, Jan. 5, at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids. Faceoff is set for 5:05 p.m. (ET) and tickets are currently on sale now. Please call (231) 591-2888 for more information or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com. Tickets can also be bought online at StarTickets.com.