By Tom Morelli/Ferris State Beat Writer
The No. 5 ranked Ferris State Bulldogs returned to their dominant form this past weekend, securing their first sweep in nearly a month at the expense of Northern Michigan.
The pair of wins keeps the Bulldogs in first place amongst the WCHA standings with 32 points, with Minnesota State hot on their trail after an equally impressive showing against Bemidji State.
Ferris State got on the scoreboard first in Friday's contest, with Kenny Babinski redirecting Jason Binkley's shot past netminder Mathias Nahlstrom at the 11-minute mark while on the power-play.
A mere four minutes later, the Wildcats returned the favor on a one-timer by Erik Higby off Reed Seckel's pass from behind the net.
That would be as close as Northern Michigan would get, as the Bulldogs went on a three-goal binge in the second period, beginning with Matt Robertson's power-play marker at 5:46 that trickled through the legs of a Wildcat defenseman.
Less than two minutes later, senior forward Garrett Thompson made it a 3-1 affair on a breakaway goal, with assists being handed out to Ryan Lowney and Andy Huff.
Huff would register his third helper of the night just before period's end, backhanding a pass from the wing that would find its way onto the stick of linemate Chad McDonald for the short-handed marker.
Following Brandon Anselmini's lamp-lighter with 4:05 in the third, Northern Michigan head coach Walt Kyle yanked Nahlstrom in favor of freshman Derek Dun.
The goaltending switch did little to subdue the red-hot Bulldogs, as Corey Kane and Thompson both found the back of the net to give Ferris State their highest scoring output this season since a 7-4 decision over Colgate in the season opener.
Junior C.J. Motte had 29 saves between the pipes for the Bulldogs, compared to Nahlstrom's 26. Dun saw 15:55 of action, recording three stops on five attempts in relief duty.
Although Ferris State was unable to replicate their high-octane offense in the series finale, they did just enough to walk away with a 2-1 win and secure their sixth sweep of the season.
The Bulldogs once again grabbed the early lead, with freshman Jared VanWormer registering his second goal of the campaign just 3:44 into the game on a one-timer from Dominic Panetta. Also earning an assist on that play was linemate Dakota Klecha.
It wasn't until the third period that Ferris State would strike again, this time with a SportsCenter worthy goal by Kane at the 4:21 mark. The tic-tac-toe play began with a bullet pass from the right faceoff circle by Klecha that was intercepted by VanWormer in front of the crease, who then backhanded the puck to a trailing Kane for the game-winner.
The Wildcats however would not go down quietly, as Darren Norwick snuck the puck past Motte off a feed from Wade Epp with just over seven minutes left in regulation.
Motte had a game-high 29 saves to improve to 20-4-3 as a starter. At the other end of the ice, Nahlstrom (10-13-2) had 21 stops to his credit.
Ferris State (20-6-3 overall, 15-3-2 WCHA) hits the road this weekend for a two-game slate against Bemidji State, while Northern Michigan (11-15-2, 9-10-1) plays host to Lake Superior State.