The No. 7 ranked Western Michigan Broncos came away with a 4-2 victory against CCHA rival, No. 16 ranked Ferris State Bulldogs at Lawson Ice Arena, in front of 4,018 fans, Friday night.
WMU (9-3-1, 6-2-1-1) tri-captain forward, Dane Walters, scored two power play goals, and also added goals from redshirt-senior Mike Leone and freshmen Kenney Morrison to win their fourth straight game, and snapping FSU’s (7-5-3, 6-4-1-0) five game unbeaten streak.
“It was a tough game tonight, I mean, very physical,” Walters said after the game. “A lot of skating. [FSU] like to really grind it out in the corners and they’ve got some big forwards that like to bang.”
WMU struck first in the opening period with Leone finding the back of the net after Ben Warda hit him with a pass and Leone sniped it into the top corner for his first goal of the season at 14:36.
Ferris State would answer back at 17:01 when Garrett Thompson found a rebound laying in front of WMU goalie Frank Slubowski and put it in tying the game at one-a-piece.
Halfway into the second period, the Bulldogs took two penalties less than 30 seconds apart to give WMU a five-on-three power play for 1:35. Walters would grab the lead for the Broncos after Morrison ripped a shot that went over the net, bounced off the glass, and found Walters perfectly.
“The first goal [he scored] we had a five-on-three,” Walters said, “Coach actually called a time out and we made a minor adjustment and Kenney just ripped the puck, hit it so hard it bounced off the glass and right onto my stick.”
FSU would tie the game two minutes later on their own power play as Travis Ouellette went on a breakaway and fired it past Slubowski.
Four minutes later, at 18:03, Walters would bury his second power play goal, his sixth of the season, as Chase Balisy found a small window under a Bulldog stick and Walters one-timed it in to give WMU a 3-2 lead.
“[The defender's] stick was off the ground a little bit,” said Balisy. “Dane made a nice shot there to finish it off.”
WMU blue-line offensive threat Morrison, added to the lead with his fourth goal of the season 57 seconds into the third period.
“I just got it from the point,” Morrison said after the game, “saw the lane, and it went through, I think, three or four guys, and luckily it went top corner there. Kind of a lucky play and the goalie doesn’t really get a chance to see it.”
WMU would go on to hold Ferris to only two shots the entire third period to earn their ninth victory of the season, and fifth in a row dating back to last season against the rival Bulldogs.
Broncos Head Coach Andy Murray is now 4-0-1-0 against FSU in his second year under the helm.
“It was a typical Ferris-Western Michigan game,” Murray said. “At least the ones I’ve been involved with other the last two years. Not a lot of room to play out there. Fast tempo.”
Western Michigan was able to hold Ferris State to their lowest shot total of the season, 15, in large part to their strong defensive play.
“I think our defense was solid,” said Coach Murray. “But I think our defense could be even better than they were tonight. So we’ll take the victory, recognizing their team and Coach [Bob] Daniels and his staff are going to have their team ready to go tomorrow night.”
WMU will take on FSU again Saturday night at Lawson Ice Arena with the puck dropping at 7:05 p.m. Students are encouraged to get to the game early as the Broncos expect to sell out their fifth consecutive home game.
Saturday will be WMU’s annual Teddy Bear Toss night and fans are asked to bring new or gently used teddy bears or other stuffed animals to toss onto the ice during the first intermission. All stuffed animals will be delivered to Bronson’s Children Hospital by members of the WMU hockey team.