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Big Rapids, Mich. - The nationally 10th-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team concluded a critical six-game homestand over three weekends unbeaten and still in first place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings as the Bulldogs beat Alaska 4-3 on Saturday (Nov. 23) night at the Ewigleben Ice Arena.
The Bulldogs picked up their 10th win of the year and ran their unbeaten streak to nine consecutive contests overall (8-0-1) with the weekend sweep over the Nanooks in Big Rapids. Saturday's triumph came in front of 1,857 fans as the Bulldogs played at home for the last time until the New Year.
Ferris State entered the night holding a four-point lead atop the WCHA standings and the Bulldogs took control early by scoring three goals against Alaska in the opening period of action. The early start, combined with a key goal in the second frame, helped FSU wrap up the six-game homestand by grabbing 11 of a possible 12 points in league action.
The Bulldogs' current nine-game unbeaten streak is now the nation's longest and Ferris State still has yet to lose a conference contest in its debut season in the WCHA.
Bulldog sophomore Matt Robertson notched his fourth goal of the campaign only 4:40 into the contest on a rebound shot to put FSU on the board first. Freshman Chad McDonald and sophomore Kenny Babinski added assists as the trio combined for the score after moving up to the top line for the game.
Soon after, junior Justin Buzzeo notched his team-leading seventh goal of the year at 6:39 of the first frame with senior linemate Garrett Thompson and sophomore defenseman Zach Dorer each earning helpers.
The lead grew to 3-0 at 11:33 of the first stanza when senior forward Cory Kane tallied his fourth lamplighter of the season on a Bulldog power-play with assists going to freshman defenseman Ryan Lowney and McDonald.
Ferris State, which was outshot in Friday's 5-3 win over the Nanooks, put plenty of shots on net in the first period with 16 compared to Alaska's nine in the opening frame.
However, the Nanooks quickly chipped into the Ferris State lead as Colton Parayko scored his first goal of the year only 22 seconds into the second frame. Cody Kunyk and Michael Quinn posted assists on the first Alaska marker of the evening.
The Nanooks then added two more second-period goals, which both came off the stick of Kunyk as he increased his total to nine goals on the season. His first at 3:35 of the second was assisted by Parayko and came short-handed after the Nanooks had been called for a holding penalty.
Then, nearly midway thru the second period at 9:55, Kunyk found the back of the net again to tie up the contest at three goals each with Garrick Perry earning the helper on the even-strength goal. The three second-period goals came on the strength of a 15-9 edge in shots for Alaska in the second period.
Ferris State, though, responded soon after Kunyk's second goal as Thompson banked in a shot off Alaska goaltender Davis Jones from behind the goal line to give FSU a 4-3 advantage at 13:02 of the second period. The score would eventually turn out to be the game-winner and was assisted by freshman Kyle Schempp. It was Thompson's seventh goal of the year.
Neither team was able to score in the third and final period as Alaska managed only seven shots and the Bulldogs had only four attempts find their way close to the net over the final 20 minutes of play.
Ferris State goaltender CJ Motte tallied 28 saves in earning his 10th victory of the year and remaining unbeaten (10-0-1) in net this season. He ranks as the nation's leading goaltender in winning percentage this season.
Jones made 25 saves for the Nanooks at the opposite end of the ice with Alaska holding a final 31-29 advantage in total shots for the evening. He dropped to 2-3-1 between the pipes this campaign.
Both teams capitalized on the power-play once with each team finishing one-of-five on the night. Ferris State and Alaska each had five penalties for 10 minutes in the box.
By virtue of his game-winner, Thompson picked up the game's first star while second star honors went to Robertson and Buzzeo claimed the third star for the Bulldogs.
Ferris State improved to 31-30-4 all-time against the Nanooks with the weekeed sweep and FSU is now 18-9-3 in history against Alaska at the Ewigleben Ice Arena. Saturday's victory was the Bulldogs' seventh win to go with a tie in the last 10 matchups versus the Nanooks.
The series has been a tight one as 20 of the last 21 meetings between the two teams have now been decided by two goals or less, including both of this weekend's matchups.
With the win, the Bulldogs are now 10-2-1 on the year and 7-0-1 in WCHA play. Alaska fell to 5-5-2 overall along with 2-4-0 in league action. FSU's 10 wins to date are the second-most in the country and the Bulldogs continue to hold a four-point lead over second place Bemidji State in the league standings after Saturday's play with the Beavers having played two more conference games.
This weekend's series' wrapped up a six-game homestand for the Bulldogs. Saturday's contest against the Nanooks was FSU's final action at home in the 2013 calendar year as the Bulldogs will not return to home ice until Jan. 10-11 versus Michigan Tech.
Single-game tickets for all remaining FSU home contests this season are currently on sale and can be bought online at StarTickets.com, by calling 1-800-585-3737 or purchased in person at the FSU Athletics Ticket Office. For more ticket information, fans can visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com or call (231) 591-2888.
Ferris State opens a eight-game stretch away from home next weekend (Nov. 29-30) as the Bulldogs venture to Marquette for a Thanksgiving weekend clash against the Northern Michigan Wildcats in WCHA play at the Berry Events Center. The series' opener is set for Friday (Nov. 29) and the finale takes place on Saturday (Nov. 30) with both games starting at 7:07 p.m. (ET).