The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team took a key step toward securing a first-round bye in the upcoming 2011 Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Tournament as the Bulldogs moved up into fifth place by taking two league points against Ohio State this Thursday (Feb. 24) night as a result of winning 1-0 in a three-round shootout following a 2-2 overtime tie at OSU's Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Ferris State (16-14-5; 11-12-4-3 CCHA), which now has 40 points in the CCHA standings with the regular-season finale on tap this Friday (Feb. 25) versus Ohio State, moved up ahead of sixth-place Northern Michigan (39 league points) and is one point in back of fourth-place Western Michigan (41 league points). Both Northern Michigan and Western Michigan have two league contests remaining this weekend (Feb. 25-26).
Junior Chad Billins (Marysville) accounted for the lone lamplighter in the three-round shootout as the defenseman tallied on Ferris State's first opportunity. Billins, who netted the decisive shootout goal a year ago (Jan. 30) at Ohio State in a 2-1 shootout triumph, deked Buckeye goaltender Cal Heeter before putting the puck into the net between the netminder's left-leg pad and the right-side goal post. Senior goaltender Pat Nagle (Bloomfield), who kept the Buckeyes off the scoreboard in the five-minute overtime with a couple of key saves, did likewise in the shootout with stops on OSU's first two attempts and forced Sergio Somma to miss on the home team's final chance.
Ohio State (15-15-4; 10-13-4-2 CCHA) struck first in the opening period as Shane Sims scored at 10:39 on wrister from inside the right circle to put the Buckeyes up 1-0 through the initial 20 minutes of action. OSU would post a 10-7 advantage in shots on goal for the period.
The Buckeyes would maintain their one-goal lead until 10:59 into the second period when junior right wing Eric Alexander (Kentwood) tallied his fifth goal of the season. Alexander tied the game at 1-1 on a shot from the left side of the Ohio State goal crease after picking up the loose puck which went off a sophomore center Travis Ouellette (Windsor, Ontario). Senior left wing Mike Fillinger (Grand Ledge) backhanded a pass over into the slot to Ouellette as the puck deflected off him while falling down over to Alexander. Ohio State had a goal reviewed with 37.4 seconds remaining in the period, but video disallowed the apparent score as the puck never crossed the goal line. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs would control play in the second period as indicated by their one-sided 21-3 shots on goal margin.
In the third period, Ferris State went ahead 2-1 when junior right wing Aaron Schmit (Grafton, Wis.) converted from almost the identical spot where Eric Alexander connected. Schmit, who would notch his sixth of the year off assists from Ouellette and junior defenseman Brett Wysopal (LaGrange Park, Ill.), at 2:38 into the frame by skating into the Buckeye zone and jamming the puck into the Ohio State goal. The lead was short-lived as the Buckeyes would tally the equalizer 1:16 later with an unassisted marker off Sergio Somma's stick. Ferris State, which matched Ohio State's seven shots on goal in the period, would finish regulation play on the power play for the final 1:49 and had a few solid scoring opportunities.
The Bulldogs, behind the play of Pat Nagle, were able to hold the Buckeyes in check in the extra session to force the shootout. Nagle (16-12-5) totaled 21 saves for Ferris State and Ohio State's Cal Heeter (15-15-4) registered 34 stops. FSU would record a 36-23 shots on goal advantage for the game. The Bulldogs were one-of-five on the power play while the Buckeyes went zero-for-three.
Ferris State, which is assured of finishing no lower than seventh place and also of hosting a first-round CCHA Tournament series (March 4-6) if neccessary, closes out its regular season this Friday (Feb. 25) versus Ohio State in a 7:05 p.m. (EST) encounter at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Notes: Ferris State is 3-1 in CCHA shootouts this season and improves to 7-3 all-time . . . Chad Billins has posted a team-leading six career shootout lamplighters . . . Aaron Schmit has scored a goal in three of his last four outings to date with a combined three points (3-0=3) in that span . . . Eric Alexander's goal marked his sixth point (2-4=6) in his last six contests, which included a four-game points streak (Feb. 5-12) . . . Mike Fillinger established a career season high with his 14th point (7-7=14) this campaign in 31 outings after picking up an assist in tonight's tilt. Fillinger accumulated 13 points (9-4=13) in 31 contests as a freshman in the 2007-08 campaign . . . Ferris State is now 1-2-5 in overtime encounters this season . . . Tonight's game will air on the Big Ten Network this Friday (Feb. 25) at 4 p.m. (EST) courtesy of Student U. The Big Ten Network is available on DirecTV (channel 610), Dish Network (channel 430 and HD channel 9500), and Charter Cable (channel 65 and HD 767).