SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Ferris State scored five unanswered goals to defeat the top-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish 5-2 Friday night at the Joyce Center.
The win, coupled with Western Michigan’s victory over Lake Superior State, keeps Ferris State alive for a chance to gain home ice in the first round of the CCHA playoffs next weekend.
Mark Bomersback had two goals and Brendan Connolly added a goal and two assists to help the Bulldogs to their sixth win in their last seven games. In goal, sophomore goalie Mitch O’Keefe came up big with 21 saves.
After Notre Dame took a 2-0 lead, the Bulldogs got a bit of a fortunate bounce to help them back into the game late in the second period. While Ferris State was on the power play, Bomersback threw the puck toward the front of the net from the corner, and the puck appeared to deflect off a Notre Dame player’s stick.
The puck trickled through Brown’s pads for Bomersback’s fourth goal of the season. Matt Case and Jeremy Scherlinck tallied assists on the goal.
The Bulldogs tied the game at two only three minutes later when sophomore winger Corey Couturier scored his third goal of the season. Couturier skated all the way up the right side and beat Notre Dame goaltender David Brown on his blocker side with a wrist shot.
Case had his second assist of the night on the goal.
Brown, who made 15 saves, had his worst statistical performance of the year, allowing four goals for the first time all season
Ferris State took a 3-2 lead six minutes into the third as Matt Case recorded his second point of the night. Case took a shot from the point that snuck past Brown to the short side. The goal, Case’s fourth, was assisted by Brendan Connolly and Cody Chupp.
Just over two minutes later, Connolly and Evan Case set up Bomersback’s second goal of the night, putting the Irish in a hole they could not climb out of.
On both goals in the second period, Ferris State was able to take advantage of Notre Dame’s inability to control the puck through their own zone and the neutral zone.
Irish coach Jeff Jackson complimented the Bulldogs transition ability, noting that they ” [play] a very defensive corridor style of hockey. They are talented enough to transition well from that. We fell into the trap tonight.”
After Ferris State took a two goal lead, O’Keefe went to work to preserve the victory. He made several tough saves in the third, including two point blank stops of Notre Dame’s Justin White. With the Irish unable to close the gap, Connolly’s third point of the night, an empty net goal at 19:46 of the third, rounded out the scoring.
Ferris State coach Bob Daniels was very pleased with how much his team has improved over the last couple months. “I don’t think we could have won a game like this two months ago. I think we have developed enough confidence that we can finally put ourselves in a position to win a game like this.”
Irish freshman Kevin Deeth put Notre Dame on the board first with a goal 7:17 into the first period. Defenseman Wes O’Neill started the play when he dumped the puck in deep behind the net. Ryan Thang retrieved the loose puck, skated behind the net and found Deeth, who beat O’Keefe low to the short side for his 16th goal of the year.
Deeth’s goal moved him only one behind Thang for the team lead and was his fifth goal in the last five series.
Notre Dame almost added to the lead near the end of the period. Eric Condra set up Deeth perfectly in the slot, but O’Keefe came up with a big save with only 12.1 seconds left in the period. Thang also had a point-blank chance with only seconds remaining, but O’Keefe again made the save.
Mark Van Guilder’s power play goal gave the Irish a 2-0 lead early in the second period. After several chances on the power play, including a shot from Deeth that rang off the crossbar, Van Guilder was able to double the Irish lead.
Van Guilder found himself with an open side of the net after the puck bounced out front off the back boards. Sophomore forward Justin White took the original shot from the top of the right circle and recorded an assist on the play.
The win moves Ferris State to 13-19-3 and 10-15-2 in the conference. With one game remaining, they stand one point behind Lake Superior State for 8th place in the conference and home ice in the first round. Notre Dame falls to 26-6-3 and 20-4-3 in the CCHA.
The same two teams both conclude their regular season tomorrow night at 7 P.M. in the Joyce Center.