BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Sloppy play stymied both teams at the beginning, but it was the play of Bulldog special teams and a bounce here and there that buried the Buckeyes. Ferris State outworked Ohio State to earn a 5-2 victory.
Both teams were off their game in the first period. However, it was Ferris State that came out two goals ahead when all was said and done. On the first power-play opportunity of the game, the Bulldogs didn’t waste any time getting on the board. Phil Lewandowski took a pass from Carter Thompson and fired it past Buckeye goaltender Mike Betz at 6:15 to make it 1-0. Derek Nesbitt added a goal of his own at 8:15 while the Bulldogs were changing lines behind him. Nesbitt’s shot from the top of the faceoff circle went off of Betz’s glove and into the net to make it 2-0.
“I thought the first period was sloppy,” Bulldog coach Bob Daniels said after the game. “When we came out ahead by two, I thought we were very fortunate.”
Ohio State came out in the second period determined to take the momentum from an energized Bulldog squad. R.J. Umberger got the Buckeyes on the board with a beautiful shot from the slot that found its way through Bulldog goaltender Mike Brown at 9:34 to make it a 2-1 game.
Chris Kunitz got the momentum back for Ferris State with a power-play goal at 13:15. Matt York’s initial shot rebounded off of Betz’s pads, but Kunitz was there to roof the puck over the sprawling goaltender to make it 3-1.
Umberger brought Ohio State back to within one at 14:17. With the Bulldogs running around in their own zone, Umberger let loose a shot along the ice from the point that seemingly drifted into the net to make it 3-2.
Kunitz once again gave the Bulldogs the momentum and their two-goal lead back less than a minute later. During a critical Buckeye power play, Rob Collins stole the puck, forcing a two-on-one opportunity with Kunitz on his wing. Betz stopped Collins’s initial shot, but Kunitz was there for the tap in the open side of the net to make it 4-2 at 14:50.
Ohio State couldn’t solve Brown the rest of the game. As the game progressed, the defense of the Bulldogs wore down the patience of the Buckeyes. The shots that did make it through the defensive unit were gobbled up by the hungry glove of Brown. The game became more chippy as time wore on, and although Ohio State carried most of the play, Ferris State came up with more quality chances and shots. Collins added an empty-net, shorthanded goal at 18:11 to round out the scoring at 5-2.
“Mike Brown played terrific for us tonight,” Bob Daniels said. “There were some chances late in the game where he came up with key saves. Even when the game was in the bag with less than a minute left, Brown robbed a Buckeye forward in front of the net that had a dandy backhand chance. You want him to make those saves.”
Ferris State now stands right in the mix with 13 points in the CCHA, in the upper half of the standings. “You have to cherish each win like this,” Daniels said. “With the league so tight, each win is so important. Tomorrow, we have to come out with a better effort if we want to get these last two points this weekend.”
Ferris State and Ohio State will face off again at 7:05 on Saturday night in Ewigleben Arena.