MARQUETTE - No matter how hard the second intermission contestants threw the frozen turkey down the ice from the Berry Events Center blue line on Friday, they just couldn't knock down the giant inflatable bowling pins that stood tall in the visitor's crease.
The intermission antics turned out to be a metaphor for the Wildcats' hockey team on Friday night, which dropped a WCHA game 4-1 to the league-leading, No. 6-ranked Ferris State Bulldogs in Marquette.
Like the one contestant who finally knocked down a pair of pins after moving closer to the crease, the Wildcats found the back of the net via a power play goal by sophomore forward Cohen Adair with 11 seconds to play.
The goal may have spoiled FSU junior goaltender C.J. Motte's chance at a second shutout this season, however, the 32 saves was enough to keep Motte unbeaten at 11-0-1 in his 12 starts.
"I don't think our chances were very big tonight. I would say 16-10 they had the better chances," NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. "We didn't score and their goalie played well."
The Bulldogs, who are on a nation-high 10-game unbeaten streak, struck twice in the first period despite initially being outshot 10-0 in the first eight minutes and 11-9 in the period.
Northern Michigan University junior defenseman Mitch Jones brings the puck up the ice on Friday during the Wildcats 4-1 loss to No. 6-ranked Ferris State at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal photo by Jenna Thompson)
Ferris sophomore forward Matt Robertson, with some help from freshman forward Chad McDonald, stuffed his fifth goal of the year through a mass of four NMU bodies and Wildcats redshirt freshman netminder Mathias Dahlstrom to put the Wildcats down a goal 11:41 into the game.
Five minutes later, a shot by FSU sophomore defender Zach Dorer made it through some screens and caught some iron on its way past Dahlstrom to put Northern down 2-0 going into the second period.
"It was like pucks found the back of the net for us, but I don't know we were playing that well," FSU head coach Bob Daniels said. "Realistically the scoreboard could have been 2-0 the other way and that would have probably been more appropriate compared to how we played."
Ferris' next two goals both came on power plays with FSU freshman Kyle Schempp scoring his sixth goal of the year on a one-man advantage 16:25 into the second period.
FSU sophomore defender Brandon Anselmini then tallied his second goal of the season a fraction of a second before a two-man FSU advantage expired to put his team up 4-0 only 1:33 into the third period.
"We came out and played very hard early and just were unable to score," Kyle said. "I think that we kind of just got sloppy and didn't take care of the business we needed to with the puck. We took some penalties we didn't need to take. Ferris took advantage of those opportunities."
Dahlstrom finished with 17 saves on 21 shots and was relived after Anselmini's goal 1:33 into the third period. True freshmen Derek Dun came on in relief to stop all eight of the shots he faced in his regular season collegiate debut.
The Wildcats and Bulldogs meet again tonight at 7:07 p.m. at the Berry Events Center with Northern not playing at home again until a Jan. 17-18 WCHA series against Alaska.
NOTES: NMU senior defenseman and captain C.J. Ludwig had to be helped off the ice with under four minutes to play in regulation with a right knee injury. He was unable to put any weight on the knee as he was helped to the locker room. Ludwig has been ruled out tonight and for the foreseeable future, according to Kyle. NMU junior forward Reed Seckel and FSU senior forward Andy Huff were both ejected from Friday's game in the third period for fighting. They will both be suspended for tonight's game as well. NMU was without senior forward Erik Higby, who injured his wrist last Friday in a home win over Alabama-Huntsville. He will not play in Game 2 either.