BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Matt Rutkowski took his first shot on goal this season. He is now scoring on 100% of his shots. That shot was all it took to lift the Bulldogs over Michigan by a 1-0 score at 1:52 of overtime.
Andrew Winnik fed Rutkowski who came into the offensive zone. Rutkowski shot the puck toward the goal, and it took a fortunate bounce over the pad of Michigan goaltender Al Montoya. Rutkowski was mauled by his teammates as the Bulldog bench cleared to congratulate him. Montoya has not yet won at Ewigleben Ice Arena.
“I just thought that we haven’t had many shots this season and I would just put one on net. I didn’t even expect it would go in. Last year, Brett Smith scored in overtime and said it was the biggest goal he has ever scored,” Rutkowski said. “That is how I feel right now.”
“It was as if I just won the Stanley Cup,” Ferris State goaltender Mike Brown said. “It was a huge game for our club. The defense played extremely well tonight. Everyone really did their part in our victory.”
“We haven’t had much luck playing here in recent years,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “Ewigleben hasn’t been kind to us, but they are all tough road games. The home-ice advantage is a big benefit. Last night, our crowd helped us to our victory. Tonight, was the same story for Ferris State.”
The first period featured a vicious attack by the Wolverines as they dictated the play early on. Ferris State goaltender Mike Brown stood tall through the scoring opportunities. As the period waned, Ferris State got a couple chances of its own. Michigan goaltender Al Montoya answered back with key saves in response and the game was scoreless after one period.
Michigan came out with even more scoring chances in the second period. At the end of the second period, the shots were 25 to 11 in favor of Michigan. Once again, Mike Brown was there to keep the game tied. The key scoring chance in the period happened about five minutes into the second period. The dangerous Jeff Tambellini unleashed a shot from the point. Brown went down in the butterfly and made the save, but the shot trickled through his pads toward the open net. Joe Van Culin got his stick on the puck before it crossed the goal line and cleared it out of the zone.
The Michigan defense kept all the shots and the Bulldog forwards to the outside. Ferris State only mustered two shots on goal for the entire second period, and those were easily smothered by Montoya.
With the momentum clearly on the side of the Wolverines, the third period opened with almost a full two minute five-on-three power-play opportunity for Michigan less than two minutes in. Brown made three key saves through the advantage to keep the game scoreless. Montoya made a save on a breakaway after the penalties expired to answer back. Both teams kept the game very tight and very few mistakes were made and one team never seemed to keep the momentum for very long as the period ended.
That led to the overtime game winner by Rutkowski.
“I would have to say it wasn’t a story of bad offense as it was good defense,” Berenson said. “Mike Brown played an excellent game last night and then followed it up with another excellent game tonight. This was a demonstration of top echelon goaltending. Both teams played well defensively. Montoya wasn’t screened on the shot, it just took a fortunate bounce.”
Ferris State coach Bob Daniels had much of the same to say. “It was a fortunate bounce, but we will take it. It was a big win tonight and we needed it. The threat of going 0-4 in the conference is a big hole to fill. It doesn’t get any easier next week when we play Michigan State. This was a big win to get us our first conference victory and just in time for next week.”