January 17, 2014

#2 Ferris State Hockey Drops First-Ever WCHA Contest In Series' Opener

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Highlights
Post Game:  Cencer   |  Hastings

Big Rapids, Mich. - The nationally second-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team suffered its first-ever setback in Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) action as the Bulldogs dropped a 6-2 league road decision against Minnesota State on Friday (Jan. 17) night in Mankato, Minn.

The host Mavericks jumped out to a two-goal lead in the opening period and scored a pair of goals in all three frames to win the opener in a two-game weekend set at the Verizon Wireless Center.

Minnesota State, which was the league's preseason favorite after reaching the NCAA Tournament a year ago, scored twice on the power play as the Bulldogs were whistled nine times for 18 penalty minutes on the night.

With the loss, Ferris State fell to 12-1-2 in its debut season in the WCHA and the Bulldogs are now 17-4-3 overall this campaign.

The Mavericks opened the scoring only 3:28 into the contest when Matt Leitner notched his sixth goal of the season. Assists on the game's opening goal went to Zach Lehrke and Bryce Gervais.

Minnesota State increased its lead to 2-0 only 17 seconds later when Lehrke found the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season. The marker came on the power play with assists credited to Jean-Paul Lafontaine and Leitner, who tallied their 11th and 13th helpers of the year, respectively.

Ferris State cut the deficit in half at 11:24 of the first period when junior TJ Schlueter scored for the second game in a row. Senior Andy Huff had the lone assist on the Bulldogs' first goal of the night.

The Mavericks took the 2-1 lead into the second period and increased the margin to 3-1 only 5:50 into the frame when Johnny McInnis notched the eventual game-winner. Dylan Margonari and Chase Grant earned the assists.

Again, though, the Bulldogs pulled back within a single goal as sophomore defenseman Brandon Anselmini scored at 11:41 of the second period on a shot from the point after a faceoff win. Schlueter received the assist for his second point of the game.

However, Minnesota State pushed the lead to 4-2 heading into the final period as Leitner scored for the second time and picked up his third point of the evening on an even-strength tally at 17:56 of the second. Teddy Blueger and Zach Palmquist were credited with the helpers.

The lead grew to three goals only 1:35 into the final period as McInnis scored for the second time in the game in a 4-on-4 situation. Margonari recorded his second assist of the game and Brett Stern also had an assist on the marker.

The final Minnesota State goal came at 4:24 of the third when Lafontaine picked up his 11th goal of the season with assists going to Zach Lehrke and Josh Nelson. The score stood up for the remainder of the third frame as the Mavericks recorded the victory.

Bulldog junior goaltender CJ Motte, who ranks as the nation's winningest goaltender, suffered only his second loss of the season after allowing five goals and making 20 saves in 41:35 of action. He fell to 17-2-3 overall with the setback. Sophomore Charles Williams saw action in relief for the final 18:25 and made 12 saves with one goal allowed.

On the other end of the ice, Cole Huggins moved to 9-5-0 this year for Minnesota State with 29 saves in the complete-game performance.

The Mavericks owned a 38-31 edge in total shots, which included 13 in the opening period along with a contest-best 16 in the final 20 minutes of action. Minnesota State also finished two-of-five on the power play with the Bulldogs being held scoreless in three tries with the man-advantage. Overall, the Mavericks were called for seven penalties totaling 14 minutes on the night.

Minnesota State improved to 13-10-0 overall this season with the victory and now owns an 11-6-0 mark in WCHA play. The Mavericks also climbed into second place in the league standings and now trail FSU by four points heading into the series' finale although the Bulldogs do have two games in hand.

The contest marked the first meeting between the two schools since 1998 and the first-ever matchup in league action.

The two teams will meet again on Saturday night with the puck drop set for 8:07 p.m. (ET).  Saturday's game can be heard live on Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com staring with pregame coverage at 7:30 p.m. (ET).

In addition to the live radio broadcast, Bulldog fans with Charter Cable in Mecosta County can also watch the video feed on Channel 97 or Channel 22 on the FSU campus. A pay-per-view video webcast is also available thru WCHA TV on America One and linked at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.

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