Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team took the first step in its quest to reach Joe Louis Arena for the final Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Championship as the Bulldogs registered a 4-2 road win over the Ohio State Buckeyes in game one of league playoff quarterfinal-round action at the OSU Ice Rink in Columbus on Friday (Mar. 15) night.
With the win, Ferris State took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three second round CCHA playoff series and will have an opportunity to close out the Buckeyes and reach the home of the National Hockey League's Detroit Red Wings for only the fifth time in school history on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead on the power-play late in the opening period at 15:44 when senior wing Kyle Bonis notched his team-high 18th goal of the season and first of the postseason from the right circle after receiving a feed from sophomore wing Justin Buzzeo at the center point. Buzzeo notched his seventh helper of the season and senior center Travis Ouellette made the initial pass while recording his 14th assist of this campaign.
The second period was filled with action as three goals were scored within the first 10 minutes of the frame between the Bulldogs and Buckeyes.
Ohio State tied the game at a goal apiece only 1:13 into the frame as Max McCormick scored OSU's first goal of the evening for his 13th marker of the season after picking up the pass from Al McLean at the point. Devon Krogh was also credited with an assist. Sophomore Bulldog goaltender CJ Motte was able to make the initial save, but could not keep the puck out of the net on McCormick's second shot.
Then, at 6:55, the Buckeyes took their first lead of the night when Tanner Fritz gave OSU a 2-1 advantage on the power-play with his 11th goal of the year on Motte's short-blocker side. Craig Dalrymple and Curtis Gedig received the assists.
However, just over two minutes later at 8:29, Bulldog junior wing Justin DeMartino tied the contest back at two goals apiece when he tallied his fifth goal of the season and first of the postseason on the high glove side of OSU goaltender Brady Hjelle. Freshman defender Brandon Anselmini shot the puck to Garrett Thompson at the left wing for his ninth helper of the season before Thompson cut through the neutral zone and fed the puck to DeMartino for his 15th assist of the year.
The Bulldogs took a one-goal lead again early in the final period at 1:24 when DeMartino scored his second lamplighter of the evening to make the score 3-2 in favor of FSU. After a Buckeye turnover, senior wing Eric Alexander made the pass to DeMartino on the goal line while picking up his sixth assist of the season. Sophomore defenseman Jason Binkley made the initial feed to Alexander for his 18th assist of the season.
Bonis sealed the 4-2 victory late in the final period with 24 seconds remaining in regulation when he registered his 19th goal of the season and second of the night in unassisted fashion on the Buckeyes' empty net after skating on a one-on-one.
Motte played 59:58 between the pipes and registered 28 saves while Hjelle spent 59 minutes in net and totaled 18 saves for the Buckeyes. The Buckeyes led the shots by a count of 30-22.
FSU had six penalties for a total of 12 minutes and OSU had seven penalties for a total of 25 minutes. The Bulldogs and Buckeyes were both able to convert on one out of five power-play opportunities.
With the victory, Ferris State improved to 16-14-5 overall this campaign while OSU dropped to 14-16-7 on the year. Ohio State entered the weekend series seeded fourth with FSU fifth following league regular-season play.
Game two is set for Saturday (Mar. 16) night at the OSU Ice Rink in Columbus with puck drop set for 7:05 p.m. (ET). If the Buckeyes win, the two teams will square off again on Sunday (Mar. 17) in the deciding game three, but if the Bulldogs complete the sweep they will travel to the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit for the last last-ever CCHA Championship Semifinals and Finals set for Saturday and Sunday, March 23-24.
Ferris State improved to 5-2-2 over the last three seasons versus the Buckeyes with Friday's win and it also represented only the Bulldogs' 10th-ever road win in CCHA Tournament action.
This year's CCHA Tournament represents the last in the 42-year history of the league. Ferris State has advanced to the CCHA Championship Semifinals at Joe Louis Arena four previous times in 1990-91, 1992-93, 2002-03 and 2009-10.
Saturday's game can be heard live on Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com starting with the Bush Insurance Pregame Show at 6:30 p.m. (ET).