BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Brett Smith has always been a strong role-player at Ferris State. Friday, he gave the Bulldogs his biggest goal this season, tipping a shot from Jeff Legue at 2:52 of overtime to clinch a 6-5 victory over Michigan.
“In the past, Brett has never had the opportunity to play on the power play where a lot of the points are scored,” Bulldog head coach Bob Daniels said. “He earned the right this year and he is making the most of his opportunities.”
It wasn’t a shootout from the beginning: the game looked to be dominated by the Wolverines, as Michigan came out on a mission. After losing to Ferris State the previous year, Michigan started out on the right foot by taking the early lead.
Jeff Tambellini took the pass from Brandon Rogers and shot the puck past a screened Mike Brown to make it 1-0 at 9:51. Through the rest of the first period, Michigan had the better opportunities but just couldn’t capitalize. The Wolverine defense kept scoring chances to the outside, where goaltender Al Montoya easily stopped them all.
The second period was a change from the previous period, as a total of eight goals were scored.
Ferris State struck first on the power play as Giovanni Flamminio scored his first goal as a Bulldog by following up a rebound chance at :54. Matt York put the Bulldogs ahead when Derek Nesbitt centered to York, who wristed the puck upstairs past Montoya to make it 2-1 at 6:19.
It only took T.J. Hensick 40 seconds to steal the momentum with two quick goals. At 6:59, Hensick took advantage of a deflected pass and roofed the puck over Brown to tie the game. Hensick scored again at 9:00 while on a Wolverine power play. Brandon Rogers passed the puck across the middle to Hensick, who one-timed a shot past Brown to make it 3-2.
Ferris State went right back to work as the seesaw battle continued. Smith won the faceoff to Trevor Large, who slapped the puck past Montoya at 10:50 to tie the game at 3, and Legue chipped in a rebound goal at 12:58 to give Ferris the 4-3 lead.
Nesbitt added a breakaway goal at 18:58 as he steered around a Wolverine defenseman. With one hand on his stick, he slid the puck past Montoya to give Ferris a critical two-goal cushion.
Michigan scored a controversial goal at 19:27 to earn new life. Eric Nystrom shot from the point and Tambellini deflected it into the net with a stick which appeared to be high. However, the goal was counted and Michigan trailed 5-4.
The third period featured better defense from both teams. With the game in the balance, momentum shifted Michigan’s way on another close call. With three minutes left in the game, Nesbitt deked past a Wolverine defender and had a prime scoring chance with Montoya way out of position. Nystrom dove in the middle of the Michigan crease and covered up the puck.
Instead of being awarded a penalty shot, Ferris State was put one man short when Mike York took a crosschecking call. Michigan then sent the game into overtime with a goal at 19:04. With Montoya on the bench, Eric Werner wristed the puck past the screened Bulldog netminder to tie the game at 5-5.
That set up the winner for Smith, who was sufficiently happy with the result.
“It is just great to be working out there with players like Nesbitt, Legue, and Rallo,” Smith said. “It is most definitely the biggest goal I have ever scored.
“Ferris State definitely had the jump today,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “We were constantly playing catchup. It seemed as if they would take the momentum and then we would spend time trying to get it back. I have to give credit to Ferris, they played very hard for that victory.”
“We really played hard tonight, but we also gave up five goals,” Daniels said. “We really need to be better defensively. On the flip side, our power play really clicked tonight and we needed it. Tomorrow is another game, though, but this is a big win for our team.”
Ferris State will go at it again one more time against Michigan at Ann Arbor on Saturday night.