Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team could not close out Ohio State in Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) playoff action on Saturday (March 16) night as the Buckeyes forced the pivotal and deciding game three with a 3-1 win over the Bulldogs to even the quarterfinal-round series inside the OSU Ice Rink in Columbus, Ohio.
The Bulldogs had won Friday's (March 15) playoff opener in the best-of-three series by a 4-2 count, but Ohio State came back to force the third and final game, which will be played on Sunday (March 17) night in Columbus at 7:05 p.m. (ET).
Ferris State senior center Travis Ouellette opened the scoring and gave the Bulldogs an early 1-0 advantage on the power-play at 3:31 of the first period when he registered his 11th goal of the season and second point of the postseason. Sophomore defenseman Jason Binkley picked up his 18th assist of the season when he fed the puck on the left side to sophomore wing Justin Buzzeo, who earned his eighth assist of the year and second of the postseason by making the pass to Ouellette.
However, the Buckeyes tied the contest at a goal apiece nearly 10 minutes later at 13:22 when Ryan Dzingel notched Ohio State's first goal of the evening on sophomore Bulldog goaltender CJ Motte's high-glove side after a FSU breakaway. Curtis Gredig and Craig Dalrymple both earned their second assists of the weekend on Dzingel's 15th goal of the season.
Ohio State took a 2-1 lead late in the middle frame when Max McCormick scored his second goal of the weekend on a wrap-around try at 14:30 of the second stanza assisted by Alex Szczechura. The Buckeyes led the shots by a count of 15-13 in the second period.
Both teams had nearly equal scoring opportunities in the third period, but Ohio State's Nick Oddo tallied his second goal of the season on the Bulldogs' empty net with 44 seconds remaining in regulation to seal the 3-1 victory for the Buckeyes. McCormick and Gredig both earned their second points of the evening while picking up the helpers.
Motte registered 35 saves in 59:25 of action between the pipes for the Bulldogs while Brady Hjelle tallied 27 saves while playing a total of 60 minutes in net for the Buckeyes. Ohio State led the shots by a 38-28 margin for the night.
Ferris State had two penalties for a total of four minutes and Ohio State had three penalties for a total of six minutes. The Bulldogs were able to convert on one out of three man-advantages and the Buckeyes tallied one goal on two power-play opportunities.
With the setback, the Bulldogs, the fifth seed in the CCHA, dropped to a 16-15-5 overall record. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes, the fourth seed in the CCHA, improved to 15-16-7 overall on the year.
The Bulldogs have never won a CCHA best-of-three playoff series on the road heading into Sunday's deciding game between the two schools. The winner of Sunday's contest advances to the last-ever CCHA Championship round on Saturday and Sunday, March, 23-24, at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.
Both teams will be back in action for the deciding game on Sunday (March 17) night at the OSU Ice Rink in Columbus with the puck drop set for 7:05 p.m. (ET).
Sunday's deciding game will be carried live by the Bulldog Sports Network and Sunny 97.3 FM starting with the Bush Insurance Pregame Show at 6:30 p.m. (ET). A live video webcast is also available courtesy of Ohio State and links are available for both the online audio and video streams at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.