By Stefan Kubus –
EAST LANSING – In a game that only saw three pucks find the back of the net, the scoring chances were aplenty in Friday night’s tilt between the Ferris State Bulldogs and Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing.
Ferris State junior Cory Kane and senior alternate captain Travis Ouellette each lit the lamp, while sophomore goaltender CJ Motte (St. Clair) made 27 saves en route to a 2-1 Bulldogs victory at Munn Ice Arena in front of 6,011 fans.
“It was a game with a lot more scoring chances than a 2-1 game,” FSU head coach Bob Daniels said. “There wasn’t as many goals as the fans wanted to see, but there was a lot of scoring chances, great goaltending, and I thought it was a pretty high-paced game, too.”
In the first frame of that “high-paced game,” the Bulldogs struck first.
After a loose puck bounced off a few sticks, Kane picked up the puck on the left side. Virtually alone, Kane was allowed to walk in and rip a shot from the top of the circle through Hildebrand’s five-hole to make it 1-0 at the 9:38 mark.
Just 1:08 later, Michigan State freshman forward Ryan Keller (Farmington Hills) potted his first goal of his collegiate career to tie things at one aside, ripping a wrister from just inside the blue line over the glove of Motte. Assists on the Keller goal went to sophomore leading scorer Matt Berry (Canton) and freshman Justin Hoomaian (Novi).
“It was unbelievable,” Keller said of his first goal in a green and white sweater. “I mean, it’s everything I could’ve asked for. It’s good to always get the first one in the book, get the monkey off your back. I couldn’t have asked for a better feeling there.”
While the first 20 minutes wrapped up in a tie, the Bulldogs doubled up on the Spartans in shots, 19-8.
Although the second period brought no additional scoring, the Bulldogs turned up the dial on the offense, peppering Hildebrand with many quality chances and 11 more shots. That included an impressive post-to-post pad save to rob Kyle Bonis of a sure goal just past the halfway mark of the game.
Both teams also had two power play chances in the second period, but the Bulldogs were the only team to show signs of life, recording five shots with the man-advantage. Meanwhile, the Spartans didn’t put a single puck on net.
Less than three minutes into the third period, Ouellette banged home a pretty 2-on-1 opportunity to put Ferris State up 2-1.
Although the Spartans ramped up their own offense in the third period, outshooting Ferris State 12-5, Motte held the fort down, ultimately.
Michigan State captain Greg Wolfe said his club certainly had the opportunities, but credits Motte with making the big saves.
“The chances were there,” Wolfe said. “He made a lot of good saves in the third, especially. I thought we had a lot of chances in the third. We had a lot of the scoring chances all night. We just couldn’t find the back of the net again. It’s frustrating, but we just have to keep working.”
Michigan State is now 0-7-1 in the first game of a two-game series this season. On the flip side, the Spartans are 4-3-0 in the second game.
“We dug ourselves a pretty tough hole to go in there and play and get a win out of this series,” MSU head coach Tom Anastos said. “I think they’ll play real hard and they’ll play with more physicality and energy in front of the home crowd. That’s what I would anticipate.”
Daniels, meanwhile, has been impressed with the recent performance of his team in consecutive games.
“That’s a string of, for our guys, that I’ve thought we’ve played five really good hockey games,” Daniels said. “We haven’t won all five, but that’s not how we always grade things. It’s just five good games, and so, that’s a step in the right direction.”