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Sunday, March 09, 2014

Bulldogs capture WCHA crown in sweep

Ferris State celebrates after winning the WCHA regular-season title
(Photo Credit: Ferris State Athletics)
By Tom Morelli/Ferris State Beat Writer

Ferris State's transition into the WCHA this past year has been relatively flawless, but it hasn't come without a challenge or two.

Going into the final week of the regular season, the No. 7 ranked Bulldogs remained tied with Minnesota State at 38 points for the top spot of the standings.

In the ultimate mix of both luck and skill, Ferris State was able to defeat Lake Superior State on consecutive nights, while Minnesota State finished with a win and a tie against Michigan Tech. As a result, the Bulldogs were able to nab the conference championship in their inaugural WCHA run by a single point.

Action didn't pick-up until late in the first period of Friday's contest, when senior Cory Kane moved in from the right side of the net to beat Lakers netminder Kevin Kapalka with 5:35 left for his 12th goal of the campaign, which came via the power play. Earning assists on that play were defensemen Scott Czarnowczan and Jason Binkley.

Ferris State upped their lead midway though the second using a bit of trickery to find the back of the net. Senior Justin DeMartino skated in on the right wing before centering the puck to a streaking Dakota Klecha. After rifling a shot toward the net, the puck bounced off the side of Rob Schempp and trickled its way past the goal line.

It wasn't until the 12:47 mark that Lake Superior State was able to respond, with Dan Radke winning the faceoff draw to the left of the net and feeding it to Colin Campbell from just outside the circle.

Kapalka recorded 42 saves in the loss, compared to C.J. Motte's 32 stops.

Saturday's contest consisted of the Bulldogs honoring their five seniors (Czarnowczan, DeMartino, Andy Huff, Kane and Garrett Thompson) prior to the start of the game, which was a fitting tribute considering that three of them accounted for all of Ferris State's points in their 2-1 decision.

The Bulldogs jumped on their opposition early, using a 4-on-3 situation to their advantage with Thompson finishing off a pass from Czarnowczan just 1:03 into the contest for his 15th marker of the year.

A mere 51 seconds later Czarnowczan was able to light the lamp himself, courtesy of a nifty set-up pass by DeMartino.

Despite being a man down to start the middle stanza, the Lakers were able to generate some offense, with Campbell netting his second goal in as many nights with 29 seconds elapsed.

Motte improved to 24-7-3 as a starter with 24 saves to his credit, while Kapalka collected 29 at the other end of the ice.

Despite being tied with Bemidji State for eighth place in the WCHA standings, Lake Superior State lost the tiebreaker and will not participate in the WCHA Quarterfinals. The Lakers finish the 2013-2014 season with an overall record of 16-19-1 and were 12-16-0 in conference play.

Ferris State (25-9-3 overall, 20-6-2 WCHA) enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed and will host Bemidji State in a best-of-three series beginning Friday at 7:07 pm.

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