Junior forward Chris Brown was adamant this week about Ferris State’s emergence as a CCHA contender, going as far as to call the Michigan hockey team “underdogs” in their two-game set against the Bulldogs.

If that was the angle the fourth-ranked Wolverines were going for Thursday night, they didn’t play the part too well.

Michigan doubled the total number of goals that Ferris State has allowed this season — from five to 10 — and turned a tight first period into an emphatic 5-2 victory. Despite an undefeated start to the season, the Bulldogs were handed their first loss.

The game was expected to be low-scoring since Ferris State boasted the nation’s top defense.

“Their defensemen are like forwards,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson of the Bulldog unit that was allowing just .83 goals per game entering the contest. “They jump into the play. There’s a lot of activity.”

The defensemen’s aggressiveness is surprising for a unit so focused on team defense.

In the game’s first 20 minutes, the teams traded blows. Both sides repeatedly sent pucks down into the opposition’s zone, but no skaters were there to recover in scoring position.

That all changed after the first intermission.

From that point on, the nation’s top defense couldn’t prevent Michigan (1-1-1 CCHA, 5-1-1 overall) from collecting the puck around the net.

There was also fancy passing, like the kind junior forward Chris Brown displayed early in the second period when he fooled Ferris State netminder Taylor Nelson. On the other side of the pipes, freshman forward Phil Di Giuseppe — perhaps the most pleasant surprise of coach Red Berenson’s latest recruiting class — was waiting eagerly.

When Nelson committed to Brown’s potential shot, he overcompensated by sliding and left Di Giuseppe with more than half a net to work with. That was more than enough room for Michigan to open the night’s scoring with a power-play tally.

Just four minutes later, freshman forward Travis Lynch scored his fourth goal of the season. After junior defenseman Lee Moffie found sophomore defenseman Mac Bennett, Lynch skated in to clean up.

And two minutes after Lynch extended the Wolverine lead, senior forward David Wohlberg’s goal made it clear that, despite sweeping Miami (Ohio) the previous weekend, No. 6 Ferris State (2-1-0, 6-1-0) needed to be brought down to earth.

The Bulldogs scored as the period winded down and added one more later in the evening after Michigan sophomore forward Derek DeBlois scored his first goal of the season.

Up 4-2, with Ferris State’s first loss imminent, Berenson was satisfied.

But the Wolverines’ finest moment of the evening came when the result wasn’t in any jeopardy. Skating against an empty net late in the third period, Brown looked up and salivated at the sight of the open goal.

Then he looked to his left and saw his linemate Di Giuseppe matching his stride — the rising talent who plays wise beyond his years.

For Brown, the decision was easy.

“We’re teammates, you know,” said senior forward David Wohlberg. “Guys respect each other on the ice. That’s just something an older guy does that maybe a younger guy picks up on and maybe later in the season, he does it.”

The dish from Brown to set up Di Giuseppe’s second goal was exactly what Berenson wanted to see.

“A lot of players have a tough time doing that, but good for (Brown),” Berenson said. “It shows you what kind of a team we are.”

The Bulldogs’ goaltending was expected to, at the very least, keep them in the game. And though Michigan fifth-year senior Shawn Hunwick outplayed Nelson, Berenson is still quick to point out the talent of the typically reliable Ferris State goalies — no matter who starts Friday.

In addition to Nelson, freshman C.J. Motte has been instrumental in the quick Bulldog start.

“They’re very similar,” Berenson said. “They could be twins. They’ll have another good goalie (Friday) night.”

-Correction appended: a previous version of this article incorrectly attributed a quote to Chris Brown.

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