BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — Little things make all the difference in hockey games. Tonight’s matchup between Alaska and No. 13 Ferris State came down to penalties and face-offs.
Both teams capitalized on opportunities off of face-offs and on the power play. However, it was Ferris State that won the game’s even-strength battle by scoring two goals to take the win and four CCHA points on the weekend.
Both teams scored on nearly identical plays off of face-offs that featured a center winning the draw cleanly back to a wing for a shot over the goalie’s glove.
“I was fortunate to win the draw,” said Matt Kirzinger of Ferris’ face-off goal. “Then, Jordie made a great move to skate to the middle of ice. He’s really hot right now.”
Alaska’s face-off goal came off a draw won by Cody Kunyk back to Andy Taranto, who moved to the middle of the ice before lifting a shot past Taylor Nelson.
“Ferris State is usually one of the better teams on face-offs and seem to win a lot of face-offs; it’s a big part of their game,” said Alaska assistant coach Lance West. “They do different things, and we got one back on a face-off, too. It came down to the five-on-five play tonight.”
Both teams also netted power-play goals. Alaska’s Jarret Granberg opened the scoring 1:44 into the game with a shot at an empty cage following a head’s-up play by Nik Yaremchuk, who picked up a rebound and found Granberg.
Ferris State answered with a power-play goal of its own to take the lead with five minutes remaining in the game.
With Ferris State cycling the puck in the Alaska zone, Garrett Thompson was working in the low slot before jumping up high to take a pass from Kirzinger for the game winning one-timer.
“I noticed that their defender was starting to cheat down low a little bit,” said Thompson, “so I popped up high in the slot and Matty hit me with a great pass.”
The one-goal loss was the seventh such loss of the year for the Nanooks
“It’s been kind of the theme for the whole year for us; we played well and we’re proud of our effort,” said West. “It’s another 3-2 lead, on the road, in the third period, and we lose by a goal.
Ferris State (14-8-2, 8-6-2-0 CCHA) will travel to Columbus, Ohio, for a two-game series with the CCHA-leading Ohio State Buckeyes, while Alaska (7-11-4, 4-10-4-2 CCHA) returns home for a two-game CCHA series with Bowling Green.