Ferris State's junior goaltender Pat Nagle (Bloomfield) made 33 saves and junior left wing Mike Embach (Orland Park, Ill.) tallied two goals in helping propel the nationally 13th-ranked Bulldogs to a 3-1 victory over 18th-ranked Nebraska-Omaha Friday (March 12) night in game one of the best-of-three Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Playoff Second-Round series in Big Rapids, Mich.
The teams skated through a scoreless opening frame as Pat Nagle made some big saves, including at least a couple of nifty glove-hand ones, in thwarting some prime scoring chances for Nebraska-Omaha.
In the second period, Ferris State snapped the scoreless deadlock at 7:16 into the frame when Mike Embach potted his seventh goal of the season on a breakaway opportunity. Nebraska-Omaha's John Kemp moved the puck into the Bulldog zone but senior right wing Aaron Lewicki (Livonia) was able to poke it away over to sophomore defenseman Brett Wysopal (LaGrange Park, Ill.). The FSU defender then spotted a streaking Embach down near the opposite blueline and fired a perfect pass on his teammate's stick. Embach then broke towards the middle into the slot before unloading a wrister on net which went under the glove of UNO goaltender Jeremie Dupont for the contest's first score.
The Bulldogs would increase their lead to 2-0 with 5:18 to go in the second as Aaron Lewicki scored a power-play goal, which represented his 11th of the year. Lewicki tallied after junior center Justin Menke (Shamrock, Saskatchewan) won a faceoff draw in the UNO zone's left circle as the puck started sliding over to the slot where Lewicki took off from the top of the circle and skated in on Dupont before wristing a shot which went through the Maverick netminder's five hole.
With a 2-0 advantage after two periods, Ferris State was able to take advantage of a Nebraska-Omaha penalty at 8:31 into the third period with Mike Embach scoring again. Embach, who netted his eighth of the season, converted on a power play for the Bulldogs as the forward wristed a feed from Justin Menke past Dupont on the right side. For Ferris, Pat Nagle appeared on the verge of registering a shutout but the Mavericks finally were able to get on past him as John Kemp scored with 1:23 to go in the game. The UNO skater cut through the slot and was able to lift a back-handed shot over Nagle's shoulder to make it a 3-1 game. The Bulldogs, who outshot UNO 36-34 in the contest, almost had another goal less than a minute remaining as Mike Embach just missed a chance for a hat trick as the puck just went to the left side of the Mavericks' goal as he was falling down.
Pat Nagle (11-8-3) received the first star of the game while Mike Embach and Aaron Lewicki were selected the contest's second and third stars, respectively.
The teams will face off again this Saturday (March 13) at 7:05 p.m. (EST) inside FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena as the Bulldogs seek to clinch the series and advance to the 2010 CCHA Championship Semifinals next Friday, March 19, at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich. Tickets for game two of the league playoff second-round series are available by contacting the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888.
Notes: Ferris State improved to 11-0 all-time in home playoff games with tonight's game one decision . . . Aaron Lewicki has compiled a team-high tying seven career points (4-3=7) in 11 playoff contests after recording a goal and an assist . . . The Bulldogs reached 20 wins on the season with tonight's victory and are the seventh team in the program's history to reach that milestone. The 2009-10 squad's 20 victories equals the 1980-81 team's total (20-14-2 overall) . . . Mike Embach's two goals gives him eight for this season in 31 outings, one shy of tying a personal career single-season best of nine lamplighters set a season ago in 34 games . . . Aaron Lewicki established a career season best in points (22), goals (11), and assists (11) in this evening's tilt as a result of his lamplighter and helper . . . Pat Nagle's 33 saves against UNO tonight was one shy of matching his season high of 34 stops set on two occasions this campaign - vs. Miami (Jan. 15) and at Michigan (Jan. 22) . . . The Bulldogs sport a current 14-3-2 mark at home this season, which includes a 3-1-2 ledger in their last six Ewigleben Ice Arena appearances . . . Ferris is looking to avenge last season's league playoff first-round series sweep at UNO as the Mavericks claimed a pair of 3-0 and 5-2 victories to end the Bulldogs' 2008-09 campaign . . . A gold medal from the 2010 Winter Olympics was on display for fans to view courtesy of a Nebraska-Omaha player's parents. Their daughter was a member of the gold-medal winning Canadian Women's Ice Hockey Team.