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Monday, February 20, 2012

Bulldogs clinch share of CCHA championship

By Tom Morelli/Ferris State Beat Writer

Top-ranked Ferris State earned at least a share of the CCHA championship over the weekend, following a pair of 5-1 and 4-1 victories over Bowling Green. With the sweep, the Bulldogs are now just one point away from earning the conference title outright heading into the final weekend of the regular season.

Junior Matthew Kirzinger put Ferris State on the scoreboard by netting a power-play goal at the 3:39 mark of the second period. Earning helpers on that play were linemates Garrett Thompson and Jordie Johnston.

Thompson himself would light the lamp, scoring the eventual game-winner with just over a minute gone-by in the third.

Down by a 2-0 margin, the Falcons cut that deficit in half, courtesy of a Ted Pletsch goal just shy of the midway point.

The Bulldogs retaliated by scoring three goals over a seven-minute span to close out the game, with markers by T.J. Schlueter, Cory Kane and Aaron Schmit.

Senior goaltender Taylor Nelson stopped 19 of 20 shots for Ferris State. At the other end of the ice, Andrew Hammond had 31 saves, including 12 in the first period alone.

Saturday's contest was nearly a mirror-image of the night before, with the Bulldogs scoring the first two goals of the game.

Kirzinger and Kane's markers in the second period were answered by Bowling Green's Adam Berkle, who scored with under two minutes left in the frame.

An even-strength goal by Schmit at 4:22 in the third gave the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead, which stood until Schlueter added an empty-netter with 56 seconds remaining.

Nelson outperformed Hammond in the saves department, 21-16 to improve to 17-4-2 as a starter this season.

Ferris State (22-8-4 overall, 16-6-4 CCHA) rides a 14-game unbeaten streak into the final weekend of the regular season, where they are set to face Western Michigan (16-13-5 overall, 13-10-3-3 CCHA) in a home-and-home series.

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