Post Game: Cencer
Big Rapids, Mich. - Host Minnesota State scored three times on the power play and held off nationally second-ranked Ferris State down the stretch to record a wild 4-3 victory over the Bulldogs in Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) play on an action-filled Saturday (Jan. 18) night at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, Minn.
The two teams combined for 216 penalty minutes as a total of 43 penalties were called in the series finale which took place before a crowd of nearly 5,000 fans. The third period alone lasted nearly an hour following a long stoppage with approximately 12 minutes to play in which eight game misconduct penalties and three disqualifications were issued after a brawl involving nearly every player on the ice.
Minnesota State, which beat the Bulldogs 6-2 in Friday's opening game of the league series, pulled within two points of FSU in the conference standings with the weekend sweep although FSU still owns two games in hand.
The Bulldogs struck first in the opening period as Big Rapids freshman Seth Adams scored his second goal of the campaign 10:11 into the contest on a redirected shot from the right-wing side to give FSU the early lead. Senior captain Scott Czarnowczan earned his 13th assist of the season on Adams' goal.
However, Minnesota State answered with 2:16 remaining in the first period on a goal from Dylan Margonair that was assisted by Johnny McInnis as the two teams headed into the locker room tied at a goal apiece after the opening stanza.
MSU took its first lead of the night at 17:35 of the second period when Jean-Paul Lafontaine notched the Mavericks' first power-play goal of the evening. The goal came after Czarnowczan was ejected from the game on a five-minute major penalty that received a game misconduct.
The Bulldogs tied the game back up only 2:41 into the final frame as senior winger Andy Huff recorded his fourth goal of the year on a shot from the left circle with assists credited to a pair of freshmen in defenseman Ryan Lowney and forward Gerald Mayhew.
However, Minnesota State answered at 4:53 of the third when Lafontaine notched his second goal of the game and 13th of the year on a one-timer from the circle. It also came on the power play and was assisted by Matt Leitner and Zach Palmquist.
Then, three minutes later, McInnis pushed the Mavericks' lead to 4-2 when he found the back of the net on a center play from the slot for his 10th marker of the season and yet another Minnesota State power play goal at 7:56 of the third. Lafontaine earned his third point of the night with the first assist while Leitner tallied his 15th helper of the year.
Soon after the eventual game-winner from McInnis, the wild third-period melee ensued and resulted in a total of 27 different penalties issued, including disqualifications to Bulldog senior Justin DeMartino and Minnesota State's Teddy Blueger and Zach Stepan along with 10-minute game misconducts to seven other players that limited the benches the rest of the way, including Bulldog junior goaltender CJ Motte.
Ferris State kept battling despite the penalty-filled stretch and cut the margin to a single goal when sophomore forward Kenny Babinski scored on a loose puck from the high slot with 7:02 remaining in the game to silence the crowd. Junior defenseman Jason Binkley received credit for the assist.
The Bulldogs went on the power play again shortly after a hit against senior forward Garrett Thompson on the boards that resulted in a game misconduct to MSU's Chase Grant at 13:47 of the final period. The five-minute man-advantage though was partially negated, though, when a penalty was called against the Bulldogs and Ferris State could not register the equalizer down the stretch. Binkley had a potential game-tying shot that rang off the right post with nearly four minutes left to play.
Overall, Minnesota State owned a 38-35 edge in total shots although Ferris State came up with 16 shots in the final period of action. The Mavericks had a game-best 19 total shots in the second period.
MSU finished three-of-six on the power play for the night with Ferris State held off the board in four opportunities with the extra skater.
Motte suffered only his third loss of the year after making 31 saves in 48:15 of action before sophomore Charles Williams was forced into action after he was ejected in the third period. Motte fell to 17-3-3 in net this season. Williams made a total of three saves in 11:20 of action before being pulled for the extra skater in the final minute.
Meanwhile, Cole Higgins improved to 10-5-0 overall in net for the Mavericks with the victory as he made 32 saves on the night, including 14 in the final period.
The intense weekend series came in the first action between the two teams since 1998 and the initial two league games ever played between the two schools. Minnesota State was tabbed first in the WCHA Preseason Poll with Ferris State second entering the season.
Ferris State dropped to 17-5-3 overall this season with the loss and now owns a 12-2-2 mark in WCHA action after entering the weekend still unbeaten in league competition. MSU improved to 14-10-0 overall and 12-6-0 in conference play after the back-to-back wins.
The Bulldogs continue their stretch on the road as they will visit Michigan Tech for a two-game league set next weekend (Jan. 24-25) in Hougton, Mich. The two teams squared off only a week ago in Big Rapids with Ferris State capturing a pair of one-goal victories.
The next home action for the Bulldogs will come on Feb. 7-8 as FSU hosts Northern Michigan inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids. Advance tickets for that series are currently on sale and can be purchased thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office, online at StarTickets.com or by calling (800) 585-3737.