OMAHA, Neb. — Andrew Wong had a pair of goals and Nebraska-Omaha defeated Ferris State in a shootout, 7-4 on Friday in the opener of a CCHA series.
The first period saw Ferris State playing fetch. UNO got on the board first just 1:28 into the game. Maverick Jason Jaworski generated the scoring opportunity when he took the puck end to end and fired a shot on Bulldog netminder Vince Owen. Owen made the save, but left the rebound on the doorstep for UNO’s James Chalmers to bang home.
Ferris would fetch a response. Eight minutes and 57 seconds in, Brett Smith knotted the score at one by squeaking a shot between the inside post and UNO goalie Dan Ellis’ arm.
The Mavericks again jumped out to a lead in the first period on Jeff Hoggan’s first goal of the season. Hoggan lifted a shot over Owen’s head to give UNO a very temporary 2-0 edge.
It was temporary because 23 seconds later the Bulldogs tied the match again. Josh Bowers scored his first of two goals on the night by clearing a traffic jam and willing the puck in.
The first period ended locked at 2. Despite the Maverick defense only allowing five shots, Ferris State had two goals.
“Our defense didn’t clear the puck sometimes when it should have,” Mavericks coach Mike Kemp said.
The knot was broken by Omaha in the second period. Greg Zanon rifled a screamer from the blue line that found its way under Owen’s leg pad.
This time, Ferris would not answer.
“I thought the turning point was when they scored that power-play goal to make it 3-2,” Bulldogs coach Bob Daniels said. “We had been reacting and to that we didn’t and it led to a bigger lead for them.”
UNO got two more goals before the Bulldogs woke up again. Maverick forward David Brisson scored his first of the season 15:34 into the second, and rookie forward Wong got his first collegiate goal by showing some fancy hand work just 31 seconds after Brisson’s tally.
“It was a very pretty goal,” Kemp said. “We knew he’d make things happen and tonight he did. That goal was skill.”
“Finally,” Wong said. “It’s good to get that first one out of the way. It had been on my mind for sure.”
Ferris State came back in the third period with some bite. Phil Meyer put the Bulldogs back into the game with Ferris State’s only power-play goal of the evening 1:36 into the third frame.
“Our kids kept playing hard and kept battling all the way,” Daniels said.
The Mavericks would quiet the Bulldogs renewed bark quickly though. Zach Scribner gave UNO a 6-3 lead on the Mavericks’ fourth power-play goal of the night.
“Our power play finally came alive,” Zanon said. “We needed that to happed.”
The Mavericks had been struggling with their power play yet they were 4-for-8 Friday. Ferris State, which came in with the conference’s best power play percentage, got one goal on six opportunities.
Ferris State fought its way to one more goal on Bowers’ second of the night.
UNO wasn’t done either. Wong got his second of the evening by faking Owen and scoring on the backhand to bring the game’s 7-4 final.
“They are a good team. They work hard, and the play hard, and they never give up,” Brisson said of Ferris State.
Zanon also commented on the physical nature of the Bulldog’s play: “Just ask our defense. I know I’m tired. We got run, and they were trying to tire us.”
Games between the Mavericks and the Bulldogs are turning out to be quite the shootouts in the early stages. When UNO traveled to Ferris State last season, the Mavericks registered their most productive weekend with 10 goals, and Ferris had seven goals. This 7-4 victory was the highest scoring game UNO had been involved in since the CCHA Championship semifinal against Michigan. Yet the seven-goal total was the most for the Mavericks in Omaha since an eight-goal showing against Bemidji State in November 1997.
In another first for UNO, goalie Dan Ellis had two assists on the evening.