Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team, which was ranked among the nation's top five teams in both major college hockey polls this week, opened its final 10-game stretch of the regular-season in impressive fashion as the Bulldogs rolled to a 7-1 victory over Northern Michigan on Friday (Feb. 7) night inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena.
The Bulldogs returned from a two-week hiatus after being idle last weekend, but showed little rust in a dominating performance on home ice before a near sellout crowd of 2,297 fans in Big Rapids. The win lifted the Bulldogs to 19-6-3 overall along with 14-3-2 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).
Ferris State struck first at 11:13 of the opening period when sophomore forward Kenny Babinski notched his seventh goal of the campaign on a Bulldog power play to give FSU the early edge. His goal was assisted by junior defenseman Jason Binkley, who posted his 15th helper of the year, along with senior forward Andy Huff.
The Wildcats, who were meeting FSU for the third time this season but making their first trip to Big Rapids since the 2009-10 campaign, answered soon after when Erik Higby found the back of the net in an extra skater situation to tie up the contest at a goal apiece. Reed Seckel picked up his eighth assist of the season on Higby's eighth goal.
The two teams went to the dressing room still tied after the opening 20 minutes of action, but the Bulldogs came up big in the second frame to seize control.
FSU scored its second goal of the night only 5:46 into the period as sophomore wing Matt Robertson tallied his 11th goal of the year on yet another power-play to hand the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead. Both freshman Kyle Schempp and junior Justin Buzzeo received assists on the go-ahead goal, which proved to be the eventual game winner.
Senior Garrett Thompson then pushed the advantage to two goals less than two minutes later as he scored his 12th lamplighter of the year on a breakaway off a feed from freshman defenseman Ryan Lowney in addition to Huff.
The Bulldog lead grew to 4-1 with just over a minute left in the second stanza off the stick of freshman Chad McDonald, who recorded his seventh goal this year on a short-handed shot assisted by Huff, who registered his third assist of the night.
Ferris State started off the third and final period right where it left off as the Bulldogs salted the game away. Sophomore Brandon Anselmini put the puck past Northern Michigan goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom only 4:05 into the final period to give FSU a 5-1 advantage. Anselmini came in from the point and fired home the rolling puck with help from freshman forward Jared VanWormer, who tallied his first career assist and second point in his last two games, along with Schempp as the two rookies combined for the assists.
Senior Cory Kane got into the scoring act at 11:29 of the third on a pretty highlight-reel goal for his sixth marker this season. Anselmini was given his fifth assist of the year while Bulldog junior goaltender CJ Motte received his second assist of the season by helping aid the third-period goal.
Ferris State then closed the door on the Wildcats as Thompson posted his 13th goal on a shot at 14:21 assisted by Binkley. Both received their second points of the night on the final goal.
Motte returned to form in net as he made 29 saves on 30 total Northern Michigan shots. He had nine saves in the first period along with 10 in both the second and third frames in addition to his assist. The standout goaltender also was called for one of the Bulldogs' eight penalties in the game totaling 16 minutes.
The Bulldogs held a 31-30 edge in total shots for the night and had a game-high 13 in the opening stanza before posting nine apiece in each of the final two frames.
NMU's Dahlstrom earned the start in net for the Wildcats and made 21 saves in 44:05 of action before being relieved by Derek Dun for the final 15:55 of the night. Dahlstrom allowed five goals while Dun gave up two and made three saves in relief.
Overall, the Bulldogs finished two-of-five with the man-advantage on the power play with the Bulldogs' penalty kill unit holding the Wildcats to a single goal in five tries with the extra skater. NMU was whistled for nine penalties covering 29 minutes in the box.
Huff picked up the first star of night by virute of his three assists, Anselmini was the second star on the strength of both a goal along with an assist and finally Motte received the third and final star with his performance in net combined with his assist.
With the win, Ferris State improved to 4-1-2 in the last seven outings against Northern Michigan and it marked the Bulldogs' ninth win at home this season.
The 7-1 triumph was the Bulldogs' most decisive victory since posting an 8-1 home win over Ohio State on Nov. 20, 2009, and it marked the second time in which FSU has scored seven goals this season as the Bulldogs opened the year with a 7-4 win at Colgate on Oct. 5.
Northern Michigan fell to 11-14-2 overall and 9-9-1 in league action this year. The Wildcats had battled Ferris State to a 1-1 overtime deadlock in the last meeting between the two teams this season on Nov. 30 in Marquette.
Ferris State held onto a two-point lead over second place Minnesota State in the WCHA standings with the victory combined with a win by the Mavericks. However, FSU still owns two games in hand with nine contests left on its regular-season schedule.
The two teams will meet again in the series' finale on Saturday (Feb. 8) evening inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena with faceoff set for 7:07 p.m. (ET). It will wrap-up a rare tripleheader between FSU and NMU as the Bulldog men's and women's basketball teams also host the Wildcats in afternoon action across the concourse at Jim Wink Arena prior to the contest on the ice.
Saturday's series' finale is already sold out and will mark FSU's third sellout in the last four home games. The "Dawg Pound" student section is also sold out in what will represent its 45th consecutive sellout for one of college hockey's most vocal student groups.