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Time to Take the Plunge

12 games remain in season; seven will be played on the road

by Published: Jan 16, 2013

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Ferris began win­ter break with­out a win in its last three games. During break the Bulldogs fal­tered against the league’s ninth effec­tive offense, ver­sus MSU in Munn Arena, before being bested in a 2012 Frozen Four rematch against nation­ally 16th-ranked Cornell, which led to a five-game los­ing streak.

Ferris ended its five-game curse in a 6–2 win Dec. 29 against Minnesota-Duluth at the Florida College Hockey Classic. The match-up was a pre­view between two Bulldog teams who will share the Western College Hockey Association in the 2012–13 campaign.

In Ferris’ Jan. 11–12 return to a full-campus and max­i­mum capac­ity crowd at Ewigelben Ice Arena, the Bulldogs were pit­ted against Ohio State University. The Bulldogs were unable to force a puck past Ohio State’s nation­ally top-ranked goal­tender Brad Hjelle early enough to avoid a 3–1 loss Jan. 11.

The Bulldogs failed to pass a puck across the line of assur­ance until 11:13 had dwin­dled off the third period clock. Sophomore for­ward Justin Buzzeo notched his fourth goal and sev­enth point of the year in the Bulldogs’ loss.

Ferris redeemed itself in a 3–1 win over the Buckeyes Jan. 12. The Bulldogs secured a two-goal lead by the end of the first period, which pro­vided enough padding to avoid a Buckeye come-back, while Motte and the Bulldog defense fought to keep Ohio State out of the Bulldog zone. OSU out­shot the Bulldogs 19–11 through the final two peri­ods of the game.

Since Dec. 1, the Bulldogs are 3−5−1 with an away record which reads the same.

Ferris Bulldogs will need to find a way to be more effec­tive dur­ing road games if they hope to remain eli­gi­ble for a top-seeded posi­tion in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s reg­u­lar sea­son play­offs. The Bulldogs will be on the road for seven games of the 12 remain­ing in the sea­son. Among the six teams sched­uled in Ferris’ future, Notre Dame and Western Michigan have been con­sis­tently ranked in the nation’s top 10 since Oct. 29, 2012.

In the lat­est U.S. College Hockey Online poll, the Bulldogs went unranked but received 12 votes.

This year’s first home and away series for the Bulldogs will begin at Michigan State Jan. 18 and end in Ewigelben Ice Arena Jan. 19. The puck will drop at 7:35 at MSU and 7:05 at Ferris. Ferris is 2−2−2 at home in Saturday games this year.

In the Bulldogs’ last bout against Michigan State, which took place in Ewigleben Ice Arena Jan. 5, sopho­more Ferris goal­tender CJ Motte stymied the Spartans in a 3–0 shutout that vexed MSU’s head coach Tom Anastos. Ferris junior for­ward Garrett Thompson lit the Spartans’ lamp for his first career hat-trick as a Bulldog.

Anastos and the Spartans were stalled by stormy weather 10 miles south of Big Rapids. Anastos’ anger stewed on the mal­func­tion­ing travel bus. He wanted his team’s issues addressed immediately.

The Spartans spent two hours study­ing the loss over and over again until the mes­sage stuck in the play­ers’ heads.

Anastos was unset­tled by MSU’s inabil­ity to score, main­tain the puck in the Bulldogs’ zone and empha­sized that the Spartans must fin­ish their offen­sive looks with more focus on uti­liz­ing puck rebounds closer to the net.

Michigan State split a two-game home series Jan. 11–12, with nation­ally fifth-ranked Notre Dame (USCHO). The Spartans were blanked, 1–0, by the Irish on Jan. 11 and tri­umphed 4–1 against the Irish the next evening. MSU kept the CCHA’s top scor­ing offense, which aver­ages 3.38 goals a game, to just two goals scored through­out the series.

Ferris should expect a switch-up in the Spartans’ line pair­ings, and if Anastos’ coach­ing has made an impact since MSU’s last visit here, then his team will be expected to play less pas­sively than in prior meetings.

The Spartans will have fresh­man goal­tender Jake Hildebrand in net. Hildebrand has the second-best save per­cent­age in the league at .947-percent. He has allowed 1.67 goals on aver­age through 12 games, with a .375-percent win percentage.

The Bulldog offense has aver­aged 2.91 goals a game, while the defense has allowed an aver­age of 2.41 goals a game.

At this point in the sea­son the Spartans have scored an aver­age of two goals a game while they have allowed 2.68
goals per game.