BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — All Nebraska-Omaha needed was a spark. Chris Holt provided that as he stopped 47 shots en route to a 4-1 win for the visitors over Ferris State Friday night.
“We thought Dan Ellis was leaving last year, so we recruited Chris Holt,” Maverick coach Mike Kemp said. “When he left, [Holt] was ready to step in. Mind you, we have been working with a three-goaltender rotation this year, but it is good to see Chris step up.”
Ferris State drew first blood on a pretty passing play. Brett Smith broke in on a two-on-one opportunity with Giovanni Flamminio and sent a tape-to-tape pass to Flamminio, who buried it past Holt to take the early 1-0 lead at 3:49.
The rest of the first period featured a number of roughing and contact-to-the-head penalties as physical play increased.
Last year, Nebraska-Omaha had a hard time solving Mike Brown as Ferris State enjoyed back-to-back shutouts. Friday, it only took until the second period to fix that problem. With the Bulldog defense pinching in, Alex Nikiforuk passed the puck to Scott Parse, who sprinted in with only Brown to beat.
Parse deked to the backhand and slid the puck into the net to tie the game at 1-1 at 2:07.
The Bulldogs’ frustration started to show halfway through the second period as they started taking chances. On the penalty kill, the Bulldog defense sent an errant pass up the middle in an attempt to spring an odd-man rush, but UNO’s Mike Gabinet collected it instead.
Brown came out to cut down the angle, but Gabinet roofed it over him to make it 2-1 at 11:34 of the second.
“We had a good first period and a good third period,” Bulldog coach Bob Daniels said. “The second period we played awful. We made some key mistakes that resulted in opportunities and goals for Nebraska.”
The third period was owned by Holt as he held the Bulldogs off the board with superior saves, and Ferris State’s run of bad luck continued to the end of the game. Broken sticks and missed opportunities cursed the Bulldogs, while Nebraska-Omaha capitalized late in the third on a power-play goal to seal the result.
Dan Hacker took a cross ice pass and shot the puck over the sprawling pads of Brown to give the Mavericks a two-goal cushion at 16:12. Brent Kisio added an empty-netter to complete the scoring.
“We really stuck to our system tonight,” Kemp said. “We have been trying to get the team to stick with it and be patient. Those things paid off tonight. Getting this win tonight on the road will provide a huge lift for us.”
“I don’t think you can blame the loss on one little thing or another,” Daniels said. “I think you can chock it up to one bad period. I thought we were fortunate to get out of that period only down 2-1. You have to give Nebraska credit. They cut off the passing lanes, cleared the rebounds, and kept the shots to the outside.”
Ferris State and Nebraska-Omaha will play again on Saturday night in Big Rapids, Mich.