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Hockey Series Wrap-Up: #14 Ferris State Bulldogs

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Spartans' show promise but a frustrating Friday night leads to a split with #14 Ferris State

Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE

Once again the Spartan hockey team probably deserved better than a split this past weekend. With two dominating performances in the shot category, against a team that held the Spartans to just 16 shots last season, this team has definitely progressed from last year. Where the Spartans are currently lacking is in an ability to finish their scoring chances. The systems employed by the coaching staff are putting the players in position to have scoring chances, it is now on them to bear down and finish those opportunities. Either way a split against a top 15 team is nothing to scoff at and seeing the struggles around the B1G, there may be an opportunity to get a top three finish in the league, if they can develop a consistent offense over the next month.

Friday Night Ferris State 1- Michigan State 0

#14 Ferris State Bulldogs vs. Michigan State Spartans
1 Goals 0
16 Shots 36
0/4 Power Play 0/4
Jared VanWormer (1) Scorers

While the score may remind many of the offensive struggles of last season, that would be short sighted to view the game this way. The Spartans massively out shot the Bulldogs and if it weren't for the heroics of Bulldogs' goaltender CJ Motte, the Spartans probably win this game. This included a second period, where without the help of a power play opportunity, the Spartans out shot the Bulldogs 18-2.

The only goal of the game was the Bulldogs capitalizing on a poor turnover by the Spartans in the defensive zone. Freshman Josh Jacobs gathered the puck in the corner and tried to make a D-to-D pass to his partner Travis Walsh behind the net.  Rather than use the boards to complete the pass, Jacobs overthought the play and tried to send the puck high off the glass to avoid an attacking Ferris State forward. The forward, Matt Robertson, was able to trap the puck against the boards, collect it once it dropped to the ice and send a centering pass to a wide open Jared VanWormer. VanWormer, with the slot to himself, quickly lifted the puck high on the blocker side past Jake Hildebrand.

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Saturday Night Michigan State 4- Ferris State 1

#14 Ferris State Bulldogs vs. Michigan State Spartans
1 Goals 4
21 Shots 34
0/5 Power Play 1/4
Justin Buzzeo (1) Scorers

Travis Walsh (1), Mackenzie MacEachern (2)

Villiam Haag (1), Matt Berry (5)

Captain Mike Ferrantino's quotes after Friday night's game proved to be prophetic to how Saturday would go for the Spartans. "We have to regroup and come back with the same effort. We have to keep getting pucks to the net and sooner or later, it's going to crack, and once it goes in, maybe they'll come in bunches." (h/t Neil Koepke msuspartans.com)

Saturday's first goal was a breakthrough for two different reasons. It represented the first tally for the team in 85 minutes of game play and was the first career goal for junior defenseman Travis Walsh, skating in his 81st career game. Walsh's shot from the point skipped off the ice and beat a screened Motte on the blocker side to stake the Spartans to a 1-0 lead. Just over a minute later, living up to what Ferrantino talked about Friday, Mackenzie MacEachern put home a wide open rebound shot, following up on a shot from the boards by Brent Darnell.

The Spartans' Swedish forward Villiam Haag would add a goal in the second period, to give the team a 3-0 lead heading into the third. After the puck is dumped in by Haag, Thomas Ebbing takes advantage of the Ferris defenseman overskating the puck and sends a pass to JT Steinglein who feeds a perfect pass to Haag for a one-timer over the glove of Motte. A poorly played 3-on-3 rush led to a 2-on-1 where a wide open Justin Buzzeo was able to put his first goal of the season past Hildebrand to bring the game to 3-1. However, the Spartans answered back ten minutes later, when Matt Berry took a Josh Jacobs shot that caromed off the boards and put the puck past Motte while on a 5-on-3 power play. It was Berry's fifth goal of the season and the first power play goal for the Spartans since the first week of the season.

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Looking back at the 3 keys to success

  1. Get Something, ANYTHING from the power play- 1/8 on the weekend is nothing great but at least they finally scored. Once again they killed a power play chance by taking a penalty to even things up.
  2. Discipline- 9 penalties on the weekend and once again took a penalty while on the power play. However, with Jake Hildebrand giving up 5 goals in 4 games, the penalty kill hasn't been exposed.
  3. Matt Berry- Got the finishing goal Saturday.
Around the B1G
Not a banner weekend for the league overall. Minnesota split with rival St. Cloud State losing Friday 4-1 in St. Cloud but rebounded at home Saturday winning in overtime 4-3. Penn State overcame a 2-0 deficit at home to Bentley Friday night to win 3-2 and won by the same score Thursday for the sweep. Ohio State tied at Canisius Friday 3-3 and then won on Saturday 4-1. Michigan was swept handily at Michigan Tech 4-1, 6-2 and dropped to 2-5 on the season. The battle for spots behind Minnesota could be more interesting than thought of preseason.

Next Up
This weekend the Spartans will travel to my old stomping grounds, New Hampshire, to take on the Wildcats of UNH. The Wildcats are  2-4 on the season and were swept this past weekend by common opponent UMass-Lowell 2-0, 8-2.