By Tom Morelli/Ferris State Beat Writer
Just one week after grabbing five of six points from Ohio State, Ferris State is now in sole possession of first place atop the CCHA thanks to a pair of one-goal wins over Michigan State this past weekend.
Senior Derek Graham played a pivotal role in the Bulldogs' dominance, netting two assists in Friday's 2-1 win. Graham found himself in the mix once again in Saturday's 4-3 decsion, scoring a game-tying goal in the first period, and later as a set-up man for Travis Ouellette's game-winner in the third, which came while on the power-play.
The Spartans however did not stand idly, as they scored the first goals of both contests. The lone score for Michigan State on Friday came from Matt Berry, who buried a rebound on netminder Taylor Nelson with 15:48 elapsed in the second. Earning helpers on that play were Tim Buttery and Will Yanakeff.
With 18 seconds left in the frame, the Bulldogs were able to score the equalizer thanks to a power-play marker by senior captain Chad Billins. Aside from Graham, freshman defenseman Simon Denis was also credited with an assist.
Ferris State's momentum carried over to the final period, where freshman forward T.J. Schlueter net the game-winner with under seven minutes to play.
Yanakeff finished with 28 saves compared to Nelson's 24.
In the series finale, the Spartans grabbed a 1-0 lead on Mike Merrifield's goal at 4:07 of the first, only to have the Bulldogs take control of the scoreboard by period's end with markers from Graham and Corey Kane.
Senior forward Jordie Johnston made it a two-goal game by scoring his 15th of the campaign with 2:49 elapsed in the second. Michigan State however would bounce back, thanks to goals by Brent Darnell and Greg Wolfe to make it a 3-3 affair after 40 minutes of action.
An slashing penalty to the Spartans at the beginning of the third period would prove costly shortly therafter, as Ouellette knocked home Ferris State's second power-play goal of the evening less than two minutes in to complete the sweep.
Drew Palmisino totalled 25 saves in the loss for Michigan State, including 10 in the second period.
Nelson stopped 19 of 22 shots en route to improving to 13-4-1 as a starter.
The Spartans (13-11-4 overall, 8-9-3-2 CCHA) continue their road trip this weekend with a series against the Ohio State Buckeyes, whom are currently in a three-way tie for second-place in the CCHA.
In what will be their only trip to the Upper Peninsula this season, the Bulldogs (17-8-3 overall, 11-6-3-1 CCHA) head to Marquette, Michigan for a two-game set against Northern Michigan.