A sellout crowd of 2,493 fans packed into Ferris State University's Ewigleben Ice Arena this Saturday (Feb. 19) evening hoping for the nationally 20th-ranked Bulldogs to come away victorious in their regular-season home finale appearance, but eighth-ranked Notre Dame spoiled those hopes with a 5-2 Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) decision in Big Rapids, Mich.
Ferris State suffered defeat for only the second time in its last seven contests as the Bulldogs' record drops to 16-14-4 overall and 11-12-3-2 in CCHA action. FSU, which is now 9-6-3 at home this season, is vying for one of the top five placings in the final league standings to secure a first-round bye in the upcoming CCHA Playoffs. The Bulldogs close out the regular season next week, Feb. 24-25, on the road with a two-game set against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio. Both outings are scheduled for 7:05 p.m. (EST) opening faceoffs at OSU's Value City Arena.
League-leading Notre Dame (20-9-5; 17-6-3-2 CCHA) came out strong in the opening 20 minutes of play, outshooting Ferris State by a 17-7 count. Ben Ryan put the visiting Fighting Irish on the scoreboard first with a lamplighter at the 10:55 mark from the right edge of the FSU goal crease.
The Bulldogs would respond with a power-play tally in the second period to even the game up at 1-1 as freshman defenseman Scott Czarnowczan (Macomb) connected for his first collegiate goal at 7:24. Czarnowczan took a cross ice from from senior left wing Mike Embach (Orland Park, Ill.) and ripped a shot from the inside the inner half of the right circle into the Irish net. Senior defenseman Scott Wietecha (Wolverine Lake) also earned an assist on the first Ferris State tally.
Notre Dame, despite being outshot 14-7 in the second period, would regain the lead with 6:05 remaining in the period when Joe Lavin's shot from the right circle found its way between senior goaltender Pat Nagle's (Bloomfield) pads for a 2-1 advantage. FSU rallied to tie the game for the second time by converting on another power play as junior right wing Aaron Schmit (Grafton, Wis.) poked the puck into the Notre Dame for his fifth of the season at 17:07 into the stanza. Senior left wing Mike Fillinger (Grand Ledge) skated into the opponent's zone on the right side after taking a pass from junior defenseman Brett Wysopal (LaGrange Park, Ill.) and proceeded to go behind the Notre Dame goal before dropping the puck off to Schmit, who was positioned above the crease and promptly drilled the puck into the Irish net.
The contest remained deadlocked at two apiece for the first seven minutes of the third period, but Notre Dame would retake the lead for the third and final time at the 7:44 mark as David Gerths scored the game winner from the left side of the FSU goal crease to give the visitors a 3-2 advantage. The Fighting Irish, who would post a 33-31 edge in shots on goal for the contest, would tack on two more goals as Nick Larson scored on a wrister from inside the left circle at 10:15 and Calle Ridderwall potted an empty netter with 53:3 seconds to go in the game.
Pat Nagle (16-12-4) took the loss and finished the contest with 28 saves, which included 16 stops in the opening period. Steven Summerhays (5-2-1) claimed the victory for Notre Dame as a result of stopping 29 shots by the Bulldogs with 12 coming in the second period of play.
Ferris State ended the night going two-of-five on the power play while the Bulldogs killed off all four of Notre Dame's man-advantage opportunties.
Prior to the regular-season home finale, the 2010-11 Ferris State team paid tribute to its eight senior student-athletes as Mike Embach, Mike Fillinger, Nate Hennig (Macomb), Justin Menke (Shamrock, Saskatchewan), Pat Nagle, Todd Pococke (Saginaw), Zach Redmond (Traverse City), and Scott Wietecha were recognized.
Notes: Scott Czarnowczan, who leads all FSU freshmen in scoring with 10 points (1-9=10), has posted a point (one goal and three assists) in his last four outings to date . . . Mike Embach extended his points streak to a season-best four games with a helper in tonight's contest and has compiled a combined six points (3-3=6) in those four encounters . . . Ferris State outscored Notre Dame in specialty team goals by a 4-1 margin for the two-game series with three power-play tallies and a short-handed marker . . . FSU is 6-7-3 in contests this campaign when scoring a power-play goal and 10-7-1 when not netting a man-advantage lamplighter . . . This evening's sellout crowd represented the second one this season as the Bulldogs reached a sellout against Michigan earlier this campaign (Jan. 15) . . . Aaron Schmit increased his season points total to a career-best eight points (5-3=8) in 32 games this season with his power-play lamplighter. In his two previous seasons (2008-09 and 2009-10), Schmit registered a combined two points (1-1=2) in 42 appearances.