The nationally 20th-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team tallied a pair of special teams goals, but eighth-ranked Notre Dame was able to get solid goaltending and three key goals in handing the Bulldogs a 3-2 loss this Friday (Feb. 18) night before a crowd of 2,097 spectators at FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich.
The setback snapped Ferris State's five-game winning streak in the process as the Bulldogs are presently 16-13-4 overall and 11-11-3-2 in CCHA play, which is good for fifth place in the league standings. Conference-leader Notre Dame (19-9-5 overall; 16-6-3-2 CCHA) extended its current unbeaten string to six straight (4-0-2).
Despite the Bulldogs holding a significant shot advantage at 15-7 in the first period, Notre Dame was able to come away with the contest's initial goal as Nick Larson scored with 1:50 remaining in the opening stanza. Larson backhanded the puck into the Ferris State net after a shot by Mike Voran inside the right circle bounced off the chest of senior right wing Todd Pococke (Saginaw), who was positioned outside the crease. Pococke was unable to gain possession of as Larson buried the puck past senior goaltender Pat Nagle (Bloomfield) in the Bulldog goal.
Notre Dame took a one-goal lead until the second period and connected for the second time just 2:19 into the frame when Sam Calabrese intercepted a Ferris State pass and fired a slapshot near the inside right circle which sailed past Pat Nagle's left shoulder to put the Irish up 2-1. Sophomore right wing Matthew Kirzinger (Leroy, Saskatchewan) tried to clear the puck out of the Bulldog zone but his pass was picked off by Calabrese above the circles and the Notre Dame skater had an unobstructed view of the Ferris goal.
Ferris State came back to cut the deficit at 2-1 as senior left wing Mike Embach (Orland Park, Ill.) recorded his eighth goal of the season with his nation-leading fifth short-handed marker of the year. Embach, who had a pair of shorties last Saturday (Feb. 12) in a non-league home triumph over Alabama-Huntsville, scored during a Irish power play as Embach skated hard toward the ND net and freshman defenseman Scott Czarnowczan (Macomb) put a backhanded wrister from inside the right circle over to Embach for Ferris State's initial score.
Notre Dame's Riley Sheahan connected for Notre Dame minutes later as the Fighting Irish regained their two-goal margin. Sheahan converted on a power-play chance as he backhanded a shot which found its way into the Bulldog net through a flurry of action in front of the Ferris State goal. The Bulldogs, who would hold a slim 39-37 edge in shots on goal for the game, fought back and narrowed Notre Dame's lead to one goal with a power-play lamplighter of their own. Matthew Kiriznger scored his seventh of the year with an uncontested shot from inside the left circle into a wide-open net as the weekend league series opener was a one-goal affair with 13:15 remaining to be played.
Ferris State would put the Bulldog fans on their feet in the final minute of the game with a number of shots toward the Notre Dame net during an extra-attacker situation. Senior left wing Mike Fillinger (Grand Ledge) almost potted the equalizer on a shot by the crease but was denied by Irish goaltender Mike Johnson in the final seconds as FSU would never get another high-percentage scoring chance as time expired.
Both goaltenders did a commendable job as Pat Nagle (16-11-4) concluded the contest with a 34-saves performance for Ferris State, which included 13 stops in the second period and 15 more in the third. Mike Johnson (15-7-4) picked up the victory for Notre Dame and made 37 stops.
Ferris State will play host Notre Dame again this Saturday (Feb. 19) evening in the weekend series finale which gets underway at 7:05 p.m. (EST) in Big Rapids, Mich. Tickets for the Bulldogs' regular-season home finale can be purchased by calling the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or ordering online through StarTickets at www.startickets.com. Prior to this Saturday's (Feb. 19) CCHA contest, the 2010-11 Bulldog Hockey team will recognize its eight senior student-athletes in a special pre-game ceremony.
Notes: Mike Embach tied a Ferris State single-season record with his nation-leading fifth short-handed goal of this season. The forward has totaled a combined five points (3-2=5) in his last three outings to date . . . The Bulldogs are 6-8-0 on the season in one-goal games . . . Scott Czarnowczan extended his points streak to three with an assist for the third contest in a row . . . Matthew Kirzinger has notched at least a point in four of his last five outings while posting a combined six points (3-3=6) in that five-game stretch . . . Mike Embach has chalked up 11 points (7-4=11) in 17 home appearances this campaign . . . Ferris State is 12-17-2 (.419) all-time in its final regular-season home contest prior to this Saturday's matchup . . . . The eight seniors to be honored before this Saturday's (Feb. 19) tilt are Mike Embach, Mike Fillinger, Nate Hennig, Justin Menke, Pat Nagle, Todd Pococke, Zach Redmond, and Scott Wietecha.