By Tom Morelli/Ferris State Beat Writer
Ferris State tallied four out of a possible six CCHA points in their highly contested series against No. 16 ranked Western Michigan over the weekend.
In front of their home crowd at Ewigleben Arena on Friday night, the Bulldogs secured a 3-1 victory to extend their unbeaten streak to four games.
Special teams were a major factor in the win, as Ferris State scored a pair of goals while on the penalty kill.
Senior Mike Fillinger put the Bulldogs ahead just over four minutes into the contest with an unassisted short-handed marker. As the Broncos dumped the puck out of their defensive zone, Fillinger scooped the puck up at center ice and began to streak down the right wing. From the right faceoff circle, Fillinger unleashed a powerful shot that skipped past the glove of Western Michigan goaltender Nick Pisellini.
Ferris State would hold the lead until 5:39 in the middle stanza, when Chase Balisy helped the Broncos convert on the man-advantage. The goal came when Kyle O' Kane skated by the left circle and sent a cross-ice pass to Balisy, who then tipped it in from just outside the crease.
Less than three minutes later, the Bulldogs regained their lead on what turned out to be the game-winning goal. After a pair of shots by sophomore Eric Alexander bounced off the crossbar, senior Mike Embach kept the play alive by chasing the puck down in the corners. Embach then sent the puck over to the slot, where defenseman Brett Wysopal lit the lamp with a wrist shot.
In the final period, Embach gave Ferris State some breathing room with a shorthanded goal at 8:08. Garnering assists on that play were seniors Justin Menke and Scott Wietecha.
Pisellini narrowly edged out Pat Nagle in saves, 19-18.
Saturday's contest ended in a 2-2 tie, with Western Michigan earning an extra point by virtue of their 5-4 shootout win.
Balisy scored his second goal in as many nights at 8:35 of the opening period with a five-hole shot that couldn't be contained by Nagle.
The Broncos remained ahead on the scoreboard until the final moments of the middle frame, when Fillinger chipped in a rebound while on the power-play with less than a second remaining.
Near the midway point of the third, the Bulldogs grabbed their first lead of the game with a goal by freshman Garrett Thompson. Senior Nate Hennig brought the puck from outside Ferris State's defensive zone and skated up ice before centering a pass to Thompson between the left circle and the crease.
With less than a minute remaining, Western Michigan pulled Pisellini in hopes of forcing overtime. Shane Berschbach netted the equalizer with 41 seconds left by banging in a rebound on Nagle.
Defensemen Chad Billins and Derek Graham gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 advantage after two rounds of the shootout, but a miss in the ensuing round allowed Western Michigan's Derek Roehl to even-up the score. Both teams made their shots in the fourth and six rounds before seeing the game end in the seventh. Following a miss by Alexander, Balisy went top shelf on Nagle to earn the shootout win.
Nagle collected 30 saves, while Pisellini had 23 to his credit.
Ferris State (6-5-3 overall, 3-4-3-2 CCHA) has a trio of games against Michigan State, beginning with a trip to East Lansing on Tuesday. From there, the Bulldogs are idle until December 3-4, when they will face the Spartans in a home-and-home series.
The Broncos (6-3-3 overall, 2-2-2-1 CCHA) return to Kalamazoo this weekend for a series against Miami University, with a 7:35 pm puck drop slated for both games.