As with life, the game of hockey can also have its peaks and valleys which the latter occurred for the 18th nationally-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team this Saturday (Dec. 11) evening as the Bulldogs suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime home loss to the 14th-ranked Alaska Nanooks in Big Rapids, Mich.
Alaska netted the game-winning goal with 1:23 remaining in the extra session of the weekend Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) series finale at FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena as Andy Taranto's tipped a shot in the slot and the puck trickled between the pads of senior goaltender Pat Nagle (Bloomfield) beyond the goal line for the decisive score. Ferris State, which falls to 9-7-3 overall and is now 6-6-3-2 in the CCHA this season, was whistled for back-to-back penalties in the overtime period to give the Nanooks a two-man advantage in which the visitors would take full advantage of.
Ferris State came into the series finale off a momentum-boosting 4-2 victory over the Nanooks in Friday's (Dec. 10) opener and was looking to wrap up its 2010 home slate on a winning note.
The Bulldogs scored three consecutive times, beginning early in the second period, after Alaska had taken a 2-0 lead in the opening period on goals by Nik Yaremchuk and Derek Klassen. Yaremchuk, who would score two lamplighters in the contest, connected for his first at 9:48 into the game during a Nanooks' power-play opportunity and then Klassen would connect with 4:52 remaining in the opening stanza.
Ferris State stepped up its play in the second period as the Bulldogs scored two unanswered goals in the 20 minutes frame and also outshot Alaska by a 14-3 margin. FSU didn't waste much time in the second period as junior right wing Aaron Schmit (Grafton, Wis.) poked the puck into the Nanooks' net just 1:35 into the stanza. Schmit scored his first of the season on a give-and-go with senior center Nate Hennig (Macomb) behind the UA goal and deposited the puck on the left side doorstep while going down to the ice. The Bulldogs then added their second score of the night on a power-play opportunity with 3:47 to go as senior left wing Mike Fillinger (Grand Ledge) fed a pass into the slot where sophomore center Travis Ouellette (Windsor, Ontario) promptly fired the puck past UA goaltender Scott Greenham's right shoulder to knot score all up at 2-2. As was with Schmit, the marker represented Ouellette's initial lamplighter of this campaign.
In the third period, the two teams remained locked up on the scoreboard before Ferris State broke loose thanks to a short-handed goal off the stick of senior Mike Embach (Orland Park, Ill.). The Bulldog left wing gave the hosts a 3-2 lead with his fifth of the year on a nifty backhanded shot between the circles during a flurry of action out in front of the Alaska goal. Sophomore right wing Matthew Kirizinger (Leroy, Saskatchewan) picked up an assist with a pass to Embach on the go-ahead tally at the time. FSU, which managed to post a 28-21 lead in shots on goal for the outing, suffered a breakdown in its defensive zone and the Nanooks capitalized as Nik Yaremchuk accounted for the equalizer on an uncontested shot right in front of the Bulldog goal with 3:23 left in regulation. Ferris had a couple of good scoring chances but was unable to come away with a score in forcing overtime.
For Ferris, Pat Nagle (9-6-3) ended the game with 17 stops and Alaska's Scott Greenham (9-6-3) garnered 25 saves in earning the win. Senior defenseman Zach Redmond (Traverse City) was the only one with a multiple-point game performance for the Bulldogs, who had seven players garnering a least a point.
Ferris State is now idle until after the Christmas Holiday when the Bulldogs return to the ice Dec. 31-Jan. 1 to compete in the University of Minnesota's Dodge Holiday Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. FSU will open up with a matchup against Bemidji State on New Year's eve before facing host Minnesota on New Year's Day. Both contests will be held at UM's Mariucci Arena with the New Year's Day contest versus Minnesota being televised live on FS North.
Notes: Mike Embach tallied his team-high tying second short-handed goal of the season as the Bulldogs have scored four shorties in 19 games this campaign . . . Aaron Schmit's goal in the game was not only his first of the year (1-2=3) in 17 outings but also matched his 2009-10 season's output (1-1=2) in 18 contests . . . The Bulldogs increased their second-period goals total to 22 this season with a pair of lamplighters in the second frame which accounts for 50% of the squad's goal-scoring production . . . Zach Redmond (5-7=12) and Nate Hennig (6-4=10) are the only two FSU skaters with double-digit point totals to date this season . . . Zach Redmond has accumulated nine points (4-5=9) in as many home appearances this campaign.