BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Down 2-1 in the final period, Ferris State had to look no further than its captain.
With time winding down, Ferris State’s pressure paid off as Derrick McIver got a partial breakaway, and with a Niagara defender all over him, McIver chipped the puck off the post, but McIver’s stick was there to tip it into the net at 16:31.
It was the goal that helped Ferris State earn a 2-2 tie with Niagara.
Overall, Ferris State coach Bob Daniels was pleased with the result. “You look at the stats with both teams having 26 shots apiece and it was a pretty even game. I suppose if you look at the fact we had to tie the game with less than four minutes to go, then I am pleased that we came back to tie. You can’t take anything away from Niagara. They beat UNH, MSU, and Western Michigan so they are a very good hockey team.”
It was a goaltenders duel in through the whole game with Mike Brown and Jeff VanNynatten exchanging saves, much to the crowd’s delight. It was fitting that a deflection was the only goal in the period.
Derek Nesbitt and Brett Smith broke in on a two on one chance. Nesbitt wristed the puck toward the net and hit the skate of a diving Niagara defenseman. The deflected shot evaded VanNynatten at 8:35.
Niagara tied the score in the second period. With Matt Verdone in the box with a five minute major for contact to the head, Niagara took advantage of the opportunity. Jeremy Scherlinck attempted to clear the puck, but it went off the heel of his blade and right to Barret Ehgoetz. Ehgoetz wristed the puck off the post and into the net at 8:26.
The Purple Eagles took the lead early in the third period. Niagara came in on a three on two chance. With the defense covering two of the skaters, Aaron Clarke came into the slot all alone and wristed the puck top corner to give Niagara the 2-1 lead.
That set up McIver’s clutch goal.
Both goaltenders stood their ground in the overtime period with each one making key stops to keep the game tied. Brown stopped a deflection while VanNynatten had a blocker save off a wide open shot in the slot.
Daniels reflected on his team so far this season. “It just seems last year we were playing with a lot of confidence,” Daniels said. “This year, we just seem to be a little more tentative. This team comes out and works hard in practice so it is a matter of bringing that out at game time.”
Ferris and Niagara will battle again on Saturday night.
Special thanks to Jennifer Dudek.