BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – Ferris State University advanced to the WCHA Final Five with a 3-2 double overtime victory over Bemidji State University to sweep the Beavers in a best-of-three series.
Chants of “This is our house” echoed out the Ferris State student section after the Bulldogs finished undefeated at home in WCHA play.
After a long, strange game, it was senior captain Scott Czarnowczan that ended the contest with a short-handed goal in the second overtime.
“I couldn’t believe it was over; I thought the puck was going to hit the crossbar and just drop,” said Czarnowczan. “I can’t believe this was my last game here. I still remember my first one and then to get the winning goal, it’s like a fairy-tale.”
Even before double overtime and Czarnowczan’s heroics, the contest was shaping up to be a long one.
Ferris State took a one-goal lead to the locker room at the first intermission, which came just under 15 minutes into the opening frame due to a broken glass pane behind the Bemidji goal.
Cory Kane carried the puck behind the Beavers’ net and was upended, sending one his skates through the glass. Officials decided to send players to the locker room and have the first intermission while repairs were made.
“Czarnowczan had the game-winner, but someone had to be in that locker room for a half hour plus keeping the guys focused,” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels.
The early intermission and long second period that saw the final 5:23 of the first period played before teams swapped ends for the second period proved to be a major turning point in the contest. Bemidji State took a 2-1 lead in the second period and looked to be cruising to a victory that would force a decisive game three Sunday evening.
However, with C.J. Motte pulled for an extra skater, Ferris State tied the game with just 45 seconds left in the final frame. Freshman Ryan Lowney’s shot from the right point found its way past Jesse Wilkins, sending Ewigleben Arena into a frenzy.
“It was a great effort, just a phenomenal game; we had a lot of intensity and really competed hard,” said Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore. “It’s a tough way to lose giving up a goal with 45 seconds to go and then a short-hander in double overtime. It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Prior to the game winning goal, both teams had excellent opportunities in overtime. Bemidji State’s Phil Brewer sent a backdoor pass over a wide-open net in the first extra frame, while Chad McDonald sent a short-handed two-on-one attempt wide of Wilkins a minute before Czarnowczan’s winner.
“There’s a big feather in Tom Serratore’s hat; he had a great game plan tonight,” said Daniels. “They really stretched out the neutral zone and made a lot of adjustments that were effective and gave us heartburn.”