Friday night was the third time in just more than a month MSU and Ferris State hockey have taken the ice against each other, and the Bulldogs gave the Spartans exactly what they were expecting.
This game, for the second time a row, Ferris State (11-9-3 overall, 9-7-1-0 CCHA) was victorious over MSU (6-14-3 overall, 5-11-1-0 CCHA), coming out on top with a score of 2-1.
“They’ve played pretty consistently all three games they’ve played us,” captain and junior forward Greg Wolfe said. “They had a lot of energy, a lot of jump; they’re run and gun. They get the puck up the ice as quick as possible. It makes it harder on our d-men to keep up the whole game, having to worry about guys behind them and racing for ice.”
Ferris State’s Cory Kane was the first player to find the back of the net, getting the puck through MSU freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand’s five-hole.
“It just squeaked through,” Hildebrand said, adding he thought he had the puck frozen beneath him. “You gotta make those saves early in the game, especially.”
Eager to keep the playing field even, MSU quickly responded with a goal of its own.
Freshman forward Ryan Keller received the puck close to the blue line from redshirt freshman forward Justin Hoomaian, gained control of the puck and shot a wrister into the back of the net.
It was Keller’s first goal as a Spartan.
“It was a great feeling,” Keller said. “It’s always good to get the first one under the belt. It was a great play by (sophomore forward) Matt Berry and Hoomaian — I got lucky to bury one.”
Hildebrand said the goal by the Spartans picked him back up after letting Kane’s goal in.
The second period was scoreless, but both teams had their fair share of offensive surges and power plays.
Hildebrand made 33 saves throughout the game, and Ferris State’s CJ Motte made was equally tested with 27.
Despite MSU playing with offensive aggression in the third, Ferris State found the advantage.
Less than five minutes in, Bulldogs’ Garrett Thompson rushed the net and made a quick pass to linemate Travis Ouellette, who got the winning goal into the net before Hildebrand could reach it.
“The third period I thought we had better energy, and we got more pressure,” head coach Tom Anastos said. “We adjusted some things a little bit, and we need to capitalize when we get good scoring chances. These guys are not a team that is easy to get good scoring chances on. You see how they block shots, and when pucks go to the point, they crowd the front of the net so pucks can’t go through.”
MSU will face that same type of play on Saturday night when they travel to Ferris State for the second half of this series.
Anastos said playing the Bulldogs at home always is a tough environment, and the Spartans will have their work cut out for them.
“They’ll turn it up tomorrow,” he said. “They play with even more energy at home, at least that’s what we’ve seen on tape. We dug ourselves a pretty tough hole to go in there and play and get a win out of this series because I think they’ll play real hard and they’ll play with more physicality and more energy in front of their home crowd.”