BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Just 23 seconds into overtime, Casey Haines lifted Ferris State to a 3-2 victory and a 2-0 CCHA quarterfinal series win over Nebraska-Omaha.
With fans barely settled into their seats for the start of overtime, Cody Chupp pinched in along the near boards to breakup the Mavericks attempt to clear their zone. Chupp poked the puck to Blair Riley in the corner, who made a quick pass to Haines in the slot. With all the time in the world, Haines lifted a wrist shot over John Faulkner to seal the Bulldogs’ first trip to Joe Louis Arena since 2003.
“I think the whole story was we had the puck in overtime, we didn’t get the puck out of our zone, they made a great play, end of season,” said Nebraska-Omaha coach Dean Blais.
It didn’t always look like Ferris State was going to win. Despite the Bulldogs taking an early lead when Riley poked a rebound under Faulkner just 3:21 into the game, the Mavericks carried play for most of the evening .
“Today, we challenged our senior line, ‘It’s been a little while, it’s time for you guys to win a game for us,’” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels.
The senior line of Chupp, Haines and Riley factored into all three goals Ferris State scored tonight.
Thirteen minutes into the first, Matt Ambroz rifled a one-timer off the crossbar and into the protective netting. Dan Swanson won the next faceoff cleanly back to Jordan Willert, who fed a pass to Nick Von Bokern for the goal to tie the game at one.
Just 16 seconds later, Willert took a shot from the right circle as the Mavericks were crossing into the Ferris State zone, and the rebound from Pat Nagle went right to Swanson, who put Nebraska up 2-1.
“We took half a shift off tonight and it cost us two goals,” said Daniels.
With Ferris State in a hole, the Mavericks kept up the pressure, coming up with some great scoring chances as the first period wound down, but Nagle found a way to keep them from adding to their lead.
The second period saw shadows of Friday night’s loss coming back to haunt Omaha. With his team on the power play, Mavericks’ defenseman Eddie DelGrosso again hit the post on a one-timer attempt. That post took much of the momentum away from the Mavericks.
With five minutes remaining in the second frame, Ferris State lit the lamp with a power-play goal to tie the game at two. A well contained Ferris State breakout took a turn for the worse when Kyle Ensign caught an edge trying to poke-check Justin Menke and went down on his back at the Mavericks’ blue line. Menke passed to Aaron Lewicki, who lit the lamp on the resulting two-on-one.
A back-and-forth third period saw neither team gaining much of an advantage and led to overtime, where Haines heroics ended the game and the series.
“Huge, absolutely, positively huge for us to win,” said Daniels.
The victory was the Bulldogs 12th straight home playoff win.