The nationally 11th-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team experienced had its 10-game unbeaten streak come to an end Saturday (Jan. 2) afternoon in the opening game of the 21st annual Badger Hockey Showdown as eighth-ranked Yale won the "Battle of the Bulldogs" by a convincing 6-1 score at Wisconsin's Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
Yale scored first and often as the Bulldogs registered the game's final five goals to hand Ferris State its largest loss of the season in what marked the first meeting ever between the two schools with identical nicknames. Ferris, which owned an 8-0-2 mark in its last 10 appearances, drops to 13-4-2 overall this campaign and will now face Merrimack in Sunday's (Jan. 3) third-place game after the Warriors fell to host Wisconsin, 5-4, in the second semifinal contest.
Yale opened the game's scoring as Jimmy Martin's slap shot from above the right circle was redirected into went the FSU net by Brian O'Neill sophomore goaltender Taylor Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) with 10:52 remaining in the first period. The Bulldogs maintained their slim lead for just over two minutes elapsed when Ferris State netted the equalizer on a goal by senior center Casey Haines (Indiana, Pa.) at 6:55 into the contest. Senior left wing Blair Riley (Kamloops, British Columbia) carried the puck into the Yale zone along the boards and fed a centering pass to Haines, who deked a Bulldog defender in the slot before putting a nifty back-handed shot into the top half of the Yale net for his fifth goal of the season. Sophomore defenseman Brett Wysopal (LaGrange Park, Ill.) also notched an assist on the Haines' tally.
The two teams remained deadlock until 46 seconds left to go in the second period when Sean Backman's power-play lamplighter put Yale up 2-1. Backman tallied on a wrister from between the left side of the Ferris State cage and the circle on a pass from Andrew Miller as the puck sailed just above Taylor Nelson's left shoulder. Ferris had a great opportunity to score with two seconds remaining off a power-play faceoff but junior defenseman Zach Redmond's (Traverse City) shot inside the right circle on Jeff Malcom was denied. The second frame concluded with Yale having a 31-18 shots on goal advantage following 40 minutes of action.
Yale wasted little time increasing its lead to 3-1 as the Bulldogs scored 2:10 into the third period on an uncharacteristic goal during a man-advantage situation. Yale's Denny Kearney dumped the puck in on Taylor Nelson from above the right circle which took an odd bounce and trickled through his pads into the FSU goal. Yale would connect on Nelson again with 7:34 remaining in the game as Sean Backman netted his second goal of contest on a blast from above the right circle into the far corner of the Ferris net to claim a 4-1 advantage. Before Ferris State was able to regroup, Yale scored again to make it a 5-1 game at 5:01 showing on the scoreboard as Broc Little connected from inside the right circle. Yale added one more with 33.2 seconds to go on a Chad Ziegler marker to put its stamp on the decisive win.
Taylor Nelson (9-2-1) ended the contest with 35 saves while Jeff Malcolm stopped 23 shots in securing the victory as Yale would claim a 41-24 lead in shots for the contest.
Notes: Blair Riley's assist stretched his present points string to seven games and has totaled a combined 12 points (6-6=12) in that period . . . The Bulldogs will be skating in the Badger Hockey Showdown's Third-Place Game for the first time after capturing back-to-back tournament titles in the 2004 and 2005 Badger Hockey Showdowns. The 2009 Badger Hockey Showdown will mark the end of the annual holiday tournament which is hosted by Wisconsin . . . Ferris now has a 19-18-5 record in regular-season tourney outings . . . Casey Haines is one goal away from matching his career single-season high of six lamplighters set in the 2008-09 season. Haines, who has generated at least a point in eight of his last 10 games, is also one point shy of equalling his career season-best 16-points total set in 38 encounters for the 2008-09 campaign.