BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Matt Kirzinger’s shorthanded goal in the first period was the difference maker in a 2-0 Ferris State win over Nebraska-Omaha on Friday night. Blair Riley added an empty-net goal for good measure.
Kirzinger picked off a Maverick pass at the blueline and sent it past the hip of a screened John Faulkner at the 13:58 mark of the first. The only other scoring in the game came on Riley’s empty netter with 32 seconds to play in the third.
Top-notch play from Ferris State goalie Taylor Nelson and Nebraska-Omaha’s John Faulkner kept the game tight despite a 36-28 shots on goal edge for the Bulldogs.
A shutout is a team thing. When you get the goose egg, it’s nice not only for the goalie but for the team as well, said Nelson. I thought our defense played really well and our forwards came back and helped out as well.
Nelson received the game’s number star for his shutout performance. Key saves from Nelson in the second period kept the Bulldogs ahead.
Nebraska-Omaha came out ready to play in the first period, but couldn’t use their momentum to get by Nelson.
We knew we were coming into a hornet’s nest, they’re 8-0 and haven’t lost in their rink, said Maverick head coach Dean Blais. We thought maybe we’d get a little jump on them a little bit because they didn’t play last week, and sometimes that throws you off a little bit in terms of execution.
The Bulldogs (10-3-2 overall, 5-2-2-2 in the CCHA) had the best chances in the first, however. Their first came on a Zach Redmond pass that Aaron Lewicki sent between Faulkner and the Maverick goal. The second Bulldog chance resulted in Kirzinger’s goal.
Nebraska-Omaha (7-5-3, 4-5-2-1) had a great chance eight minutes into the second, but a diving Nelson pulled the puck off the goal line. A short video review upheld the save. Faulkner made a great save of his own by getting his mask in the way of a Cody Chupp deflection.
Faulkner also made some key saves in the third to keep the Bulldog lead at one goal. Three minutes into the frame, he got the blocker up as Eric Alexander went to his backhand on a breakaway. Then, with three minutes to play, Faulkner slid over to rob Casey Haines’ 2-on-1 chance. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, his play wouldn’t be enough as Nebraska-Omaha failed to solve Nelson.
Neither side capitalized on the power play in the game.
We’ve got to score power play goals. We didn’t compete enough, said Blais. The guys on the power play don’t see it as a privilege. When we don’t score power play goals, we don’t win.
The two meet again tomorrow at 5:05 p.m. At Ewigleben Ice Arena to finish the first of two two game series they will play this year.