OMAHA, Neb. — A trio of first period goals and a nearly flawless debut performance from freshman goaltender Pat Nagle proved more than enough as Ferris State steamrolled Nebraska-Omaha 5-1 in front of 5,720 at Qwest Center Omaha on Friday night.
The two teams came into the series following a week in which they were on opposite ends of sweeps in league play, and it was the Bulldogs who took the upper hand Friday and never fully let go.
The Bulldogs seemed keen to get the taste of last week’s sweep at the hands of Bowling Green in Big Rapids out of their mouths, and they did not waste much time getting to work.
At 5:18 of the opening period, opportunity struck when a east-to-west pass in the UNO zone was blocked by Maverick center Joey Martin. It was a smart move defensively by the freshman, to be fair, but the resulting loose puck fell to the stick of Brendan Connolly a few feet in front of the net before he beat Jerad Kaufmann low glove-side.
Ferris State would double their lead just under two minutes later when freshman defenseman Scott Wietecha put a missile of a one-timer from the blue line past Kaufmann into the far bottom corner of the net. Wietecha’s first collegiate goal went a long way toward silencing the home crowd and cementing Ferris State’s dominance in the first frame.
The Mavericks would pull a goal back on their first sustained trip past the FSU blue line, though, as the rebound from a Rich Purslow shot found its way to Mick Lawrence and he swatted the puck home at 8:58 for his seventh goal of the season.
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, Ferris State would push the deficit back to two soon after when Corey Couturier came from behind the UNO net and beat Kaufmann low from a bad angle.
It was at this point that UNO coach Mike Kemp decided he had seen enough, and pulled Kaufmann in favor of sophomore Jeremie Dupont.
Kemp said that there weren’t any words exchanged between him and Kaufmann at that stage.
“There’s not much to say. I mean, I’m trying to get him out of there because he was struggling at that point in time.”
Kaufmann was blunt when asked about his thoughts on the game.
“We’re not happy. None of us are happy,” he said. “That was embarrassing for us, and it can’t happen the rest of the year.”
“We came out flat. We weren’t prepared physically. Our guys weren’t in it, and that goes for myself included. We need to correct that and come back Sunday and really be flying.”
The second period started in similar fashion to the first, as a low-percentage shot from sophomore winger Blair Riley rang in off the post to make the score 4-1.
Riley’s goal aside, the second period wasn’t one that will live long in the memory banks. Both sides canceled each other out for the remaining 15 minutes or so of the frame as Ferris State showed little urgency to add to their lead and UNO continued to struggle to create many genuine scoring chances.
Despite giving up a goal on the first shot he faced in his collegiate career, Bulldog freshman goaltender Pat Nagle rarely faced much sustained pressure from the opposition in the opening 40 minutes, picking up 19 saves in that stretch of time en route to a total of 31 on the night.
The game reached its final score at 14:57 of the third period when a set-up pass from Matt Frank found J.T. Dahlinger in front of the net about a stick’s length from Dupont before he slotted home.
It was about as comprehensive a victory as Ferris State could have hoped for, and one that Kemp was not at all happy about.
“It rests solely on us. Their effort was better than ours, and as a result of that, the results were not what we would want,” he said. “They beat us to loose pucks, and they out-competed us.”
In contrast, Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels was generally pleased with his team’s effort. He threw extra praise on the Bulldogs’ special teams after they killed a 5-on-3 power play early in the third period that negated any realistic chance of the Mavericks getting back into the game.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of killing off that 5-on-3,” Daniels said. “I thought that was really a big kill. I can see where they score a lot of goals, though. They’ve got a lot of forwards who move well in transition.
“We feel somewhat fortunate, because we did make a lot of errors where I thought they had odd-man rushes, and we got away with it, but I don’t know if we would get away with that same game on Sunday if we don’t play better than we did today.”
The series now takes a rare extended break before the two teams face each other once more on Sunday afternoon at 2:05.