A 28-save performance from sophomore goaltender Taylor Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) sparked the nationally 17th-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team to a 2-0 shutout victory over 18th-ranked Nebraska-Omaha this Friday (Dec. 4) evening in a Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) matchup at FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich.
With the triumph, Ferris State extends its current unbeaten streak to seven straight (5-0-2) while the Bulldogs remained perfect at home this season with a 9-0-0 ledger. Overall, FSU is 10-3-2 with a 5-2-2-2 mark in CCHA action.
The opening period was a well-played one at both ends before Ferris State snapped a scoreless tie at the 13:58 mark on a short-handed goal by freshman center Matthew Kirzinger (Leroy, Saskatchewan). Kirzinger netted his sixth goal of the season unassisted after picking off a UNO pass at the blueline and skating into the Mavericks' zone. He proceeded to put the puck past Nebraska-Omaha goaltender John Faulkner into the near post as the netminder was screened on the scoring play. FSU finished the frame with a 14-12 shots on goal advantage.
Ferris State would outshoot the visitors 14-10 in the game's second 20 minutes of action although neither team was able to score. UNO hoped to register the equalizer at 7:45 into the period but a video review showed Taylor Nelson had stopped the puck with his glove just outside the goal line.
The Bulldogs received solid play from Nelson and some good fortunate in the third period as the UNO was unable to get the puck into the FSU net. In the last minute of the contest, Nebraska-Omaha was forced to pull its netminder for the extra attacker and Ferris took advantage as senior left wing Blair Riley (Kamloops, British Columbia) produced his team-leading 13th goal of the season on an empty netter with 31.5 seconds to go in the game. Junior left wing Mike Fillinger (Grand Ledge) and senior center Casey Haines (Indiana, Pa.) each earned an assist on the Riley goal.
Taylor Nelson's (7-1-1) shutout on 28 saves afforded him the game's first star while John Faulkner turned in a 34-save performance for Nebraska-Omaha (7-5-3 overall and 4-5-2-1 CCHA).
The two nationally-ranked league foes will meet again for the final time this regular season on Saturday (Dec. 5) with opening faceoff set for 5:05 p.m. (EST) at Big Rapids. Tickets for the contest can be purchased by contacting the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888.
Notes: Ferris State moved into a tie for third place in the CCHA standings with tonight's win . . . Taylor Nelson recorded his first career shutout and is 6-0-0 with a 1.66 goals-against average in six home appearances this campaign . . . Blair Riley picked up his 13th goal of the season (10th at home) and needs one more lamplighter to equal his career single-season high 14 markers set in the 2007-08 season . . . Casey Haines' nine assists in 15 games this season is one shy of matching his 10 helpers in 38 outings for the 2008-09 campaign . . . The Bulldogs have outscored their opponent 27-12 during their seven-game unbeaten streak . . . Matthew Kirzinger's short-handed goal extended his current points string to three games and has totaled four points (3-1=4) in that span.