The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team clinched a first-round bye in the 2011 Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Tournament as Kyle Bonis (Lindsay, Ontario) scored with just under two minutes remaining to lift the Bulldogs to a 3-1 regular-season finale victory over Ohio State this Friday (Feb. 25) night at OSU's Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio
The Bulldogs, who improve to 17-14-5 overall and 12-12-4-3 (43 league points) in the CCHA this season with the win, achieved one of their season goals with the first-round league tournament bye. Ferris State, which claimed five of a possible six league points in the two-game regular-season finale set at Ohio State and currently occupies fourth place in the CCHA standings, is guaranteed of finishing no lower than fifth place and still has the possibility of hosting a best two-of-three second-round playoff series on March 11-13 depending upon the outcome of Saturday's (Feb. 26) Western Michigan-Notre Dame contest. WMU must gain two points in its home-and-home series finale at Notre Dame to tie the Bulldogs.
Kyle Bonis earned the game's first star and deservingly so as the sophomore left wing scored the decisive lamplighter on a shot from the left-side edge of the Ohio State net. Bonis came down the left side along with junior right wing Aaron Schmit (Grafton, Wis.) into the Buckeye zone and skated through the circle before putting a wrister top shelf between OSU goaltender Cal Heeter and the post. Bonis' goal represented his seventh of the season.
Ohio State would try to gain the equalizer with an extra attacker in the time remaining but Ferris State dashed any hopes of a Buckeye comeback. Senior left wing Mike Fillinger (Grand Ledge) scored an empty netter, his eighth of the campaign as the Bulldogs would carry the final five minutes of play and register a 14-7 lead in shots for the frame.
Sophomore center Travis Ouellette (Windsor, Ontario) scored the first goal of the game as his power-play tally put the Bulldogs on the board 9:36 into the second period. Ouellette produced his sixth of the season on a shot from just above the left circle faceoff dot which went far side past Ohio State goaltender Cal Heeter to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead through two periods. Junior defenseman Brett Wysopal (LaGrange Park, Ill.) fed a pass down from near the blueline to Ouellette, who skated into the middle of the circle uncontested before unleashing his wrist shot. Ferris State would outshoot Ohio State 15-6 in the first period while the Buckeyes claimed a 10-5 lead in the second 20 minutes.
Ferris State would continue to maintain its one-goal advantage until 9:26 remaining when Sergio Somma tallied the equalizer for the Buckeyes on a FSU line change miscue. Somma was able to get a shot off above the Bulldog goal crease as the puck trickled between FSU goaltender Pat Nagle's (Bloomfield) pads past the goal lead to tie the contest at 1-1. Ferris State came inches away from regaining the lead with 2:41 left as the Bulldogs won the faceoff in the OSU zone and senior left wing Mike Embach's (Orland Park, Ill.) one timer from above the left circle hit the goal post. However, Ferris State was able to gain a measure of justice less than a minute later on Bonis' heroics.
The Bulldogs ended the contest with a 34-23 advantage in shots and converted one-of-five man-advantage opportunities while the Buckeyes were unsuccessful in two such chances.
Pat Nagle (17-12-5) turned away 22 shots in a winning performance while Cal Heeter (15-16-4) took the loss despite making 31 stops. Travis Ouellette (1-1=2) and Brett Wysopal (0-2=2) both turned in multiple-point game efforts for the Bulldogs, who gained an opening-round league tourney bye for the second season in a row.
Notes: Kyle Bonis has scored two career game-winners against Ohio State . . . Ferris State is 10-3-3 in its last 16 matchups with Ohio State . . . Travis Ouellette (4-3=7) and Mike Fillinger (3-4=7) have accumulated seven points apiece in eight February encounters . . . Kyle Bonis recorded four points (3-1=4) in four series meetings against Ohio State this season . . . Mike Fillinger has tallied at least a point in seven of his last eight outings while producing a combined seven points (3-4=7) .