The 2010-11 Ferris State University men's hockey team can hold their heads up high as the Bulldogs overcame an early three-goal deficit to force overtime in Sunday's (March 13) deciding third game of a Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Tournament Quarterfinal-Round series, but unfortunately Western Michigan would tally the game-winning goal at 2:23 into the extra session to claim a 5-4 victory over the Bulldogs at WMU's Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich.
The setback eliminates Ferris State from the conference tournament and in all likelihood marked the final appearance for the Bulldogs this season. FSU was at few places away from garnering consideration for a possible NCAA Tournament spot in the latest NCAA Pairwise Rankings. The Bulldogs, under 19th-year head coach Bob Daniels, have registered an 18-16-5 overall record this season while earning fifth place in the CCHA regular-season standings at 12-12-4-3 (43 league points).
The decisive third game featured momentum swings by both teams as fourth-seed Western Michigan scored three unanswered goals early in the contest only to have Ferris State come back from three goals down to produce four of the next five lamplighters. In the 20-minute overtime period, the Bulldogs controlled the play at the start with several good scoring chances on WMU goaltender Jerry Kuhn as the puck stayed in the Broncos' zone for the first two minutes. Western was able to get a scoring opportunity when junior defenseman Brett Wysopal (LaGrange Park, Ill.) lost an edge on his skate near the blueline of FSU's zone and fell down while WMU's Dane Walters skated to the loose puck. Walters gained puck possession before putting a cross ice pass on Max Campbell's stick during a scoring rush attempt. Campbell, who scored twice in the contest, proceeded to blast a wrister from inside the left circle into the far corner of Ferris' net for the game-winning score.
Western Michigan did all of the scoring in the opening period on a pair of goals, which came less than two minutes apart. A tip in by Trevor Elias just outside the front of the Ferris State crease off a rebound shot gave the host Broncos a 1-0 lead at 13:28. WMU followed up the power-play goal with its second lamplighter of the contest as Shane Berschbach scored on an unassisted marker. Berschbach ripped a shot from outside the near ring of the left circle which went five-hole between senior goaltender Pat Nagle's (Bloomfield) pads to put the Broncos up 2-0 with 4:55 remaining in the first period. Western would claim an 11-5 shots on goal advantage thru the initial 20 minutes of action.
The second period was an offensive one as evidenced by the two teams combining for five goals. Western Michigan tallied first when Matt Tennyson connected on a shot from near the right circle faceoff dot at 3:57 into the frame. Trailing 3-0, Ferris State would get on the board 1:07 later as freshman defenseman Scott Czarnowczan (Macomb) sent a wrister from the left circle netward that was tipped by junior right wing Aaron Schmit (Grafton, Wis.) into the Broncos' net. Senior defenseman Scott Wietecha (Wolverine Lake) and Czarnowczan each earned an assist on Schmit's power-play goal, which represented his seventh of the season. Western would quickly answer as the Broncos made it 4-1 only 38 seconds later when Max Campbell broke loose on a one-on-one breakaway against Pat Nagle and his wrist shot landed into the top righter corner of the Ferris goal.
Ferris State, which faced a three-goal deficit early in the second period, rallied with back-to-back goals off the stick of sophomore center Travis Ouellette (Windsor, Ontario). The Bulldog forward continued to produce on his current scoring tear by racking up his ninth of the season on a nifty back-handed shot between the crease and right circle. FSU then narrowed the gap to 4-3 at the 12:01 mark when the Bulldogs capitialized on a five-on-three man advantage as Ouellette was on the receiving end of a tic-tac-toe pass. Mike Fillinger fed a pass cross ice down low to Ouellette, who positioned himself between the left circle and the WMU crease. Ouellette potted his 10th on the year as Fillinger and Wietecha each registered their second helper on the night.
The Bulldogs gained the equalizer in the regulation's final period as freshman center Cory Kane (Irvine, Calif.) converted on a two-on-one break with his fourth goal of the season. Kane's tally came at the 7:46 via a shot from the top of goal crease to beat WMU netminder Jerry Kuhn over his blocker hand. Senior center Justin Menke (Shamrock, Saskatchewan) and sophomore left wing Kyle Bonis (Lindsay, Ontario) were credited with assists. Ferris State appeared on the verge of taking the lead with 1:14 to go in regulation, but Kuhn made a diving save on sophomore right wing Matthew Kirzinger's (Leroy, Saskatchewan) breakaway shot from inside down low of the left circle.
Pat Nagle (18-14-5), a 2010-11 CCHA First-Team selection and a finalist for the CCHA RBC Player of the Year Award this season, totaled 26 saves for Ferris State while his counterpart, Jerry Kuhn (11-6-6) finished his evening by chalking up 29 stops. The Bulldogs would claim a 33-31 edge in shots on goal, including a 6-1 margin in overtime.
Three Bulldog skaters turned in multiple-point outings as Scott Wietecha and Mike Fillinger each compiled two assists while Travis Ouellette pocketed two goals in the encounter.
Notes: Travis Ouellette finished the season with a five-game points streak and a combined nine points (5-4=9) in that span . . . The Bulldogs were 1-3-5 in overtime affairs this season . . . Travis Ouellette has six career points (4-2=6) in five career outings versus Western Michigan.