COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a season where one conference point could make a huge difference, it is no surprise that Ferris State Bulldogs coach Bob Daniels saw their 3-3 tie against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday evening as a win.
“This could be the one year for the first time a shootout could dictate who is league champion,” Daniels said. “It certainly could dictate a lot of different scenarios in the playoffs. Like it or not, one way or another, they are going to have a bearing because of how tight it is.”
The Bulldogs won the postgame shootout 2-0, with goals from Kyle Bonis and Derek Graham. The shootout decided an extra conference point.
Graham’s shot, which beat the stick of Ohio State goalie Cal Heeter, put Ferris State within two points of catching the Buckeyes on top of the CCHA standings.
“That was just a little extra,” said Graham, who added a goal and an assist. “It is great to get that point, the shootout means a lot. It is just a little extra icing on the cake to be able to put that in. It is so tight, we need every point we can get.”
Every time Ferris State scored in Saturday’s contest, Ohio State answered.
“The fact that we had a lead inside of five minutes and two one-goal leads in the third, give Ohio State credit, but I would like to find a way to get that thing solved without having to go to a shootout,” Daniels said.
“A couple of goofy bounces, maybe some adverse situations we were put in, our guys responded all the way through it,” Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki said. “Never could get the lead, but they always found a way to battle back.”
Ohio State remains winless in 2012 at 0-3-3. The Buckeyes remain on top of the CCHA standings, but have a cavalry waiting behind them. Four teams are within two points of catching the Buckeyes at the top of the CCHA.
The Buckeyes have lost all three shootouts they have participated in so far in 2012. Osiecki said he felt Saturday’s tie felt like a loss.
“It stinks because you come away from a tough game, I understand trying to break a tie, I understand it is great for the fans, but for the players in the locker room, it is difficult,” Osiecki said.
For the fourth straight game, Ohio State gave up the opening goal as Graham tapped-in Simon Denis’ cross-crease pass past the stick of Ohio State goalie Cal Heeter 7:02 into the first.
Ohio State answered 2:26 later to knot the game at one as Tanner Fritz collected a loose puck and fired a shot over Ferris State goalie C.J. Motte. The game remained 1-1 through two periods. Ohio State has not led in the first period of a game since Dec. 2 against Lake Superior State, a span of 10 games.
Bonis gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead 70 seconds into the third period when he finished a two-on-one chance, redirecting a cross-ice pass from Graham.
Ohio State responded nine minutes later when Danny Dries’ slap shot from the left circle beat Motte while the Buckeyes were killing off a boarding penalty.
“Got a nice pass and came down the wing and their defenseman was kind of back, so I let it go,” Dries said. “It was a good feeling, but didn’t get the result we wanted.”
The Bulldogs got their only power-play goal of the game 13:09 into the third when Matthew Kirzinger’s shot off a rebound trickled past Heeter.
Ohio State forced overtime with 3:22 left when Fritz’s diagonal pass found a wide-open Max McCormick skating through the slot. His shot beat Motte by a mile on his stick side.
Though Ohio State generated the best chances in overtime, neither team could find the back of the net.
Both squads have a pair of games next weekend. No. 13 Ferris State returns home to face Michigan State. No. 5 Ohio State travels to Lake Superior State.