FSU shocked by Bowling Green, falls in overtime

Bulldogs squander three-goal lead; denied trip to Joe Louis Ice Arena

BIG RAPIDS — This one is going to sting for a while.

Ferris State’s plans to return to Joe Louis Ice Arena for the CCHA semifinals for the first time since 2009 were canceled unexpectedly on Sunday, following a 4-3 overtime loss to Bowling Green that can only be described as painful for the Bulldogs. The Falcons took the best-of-three series 2-1.

After three first-period goals turned the tense atmosphere in Ewigleben Ice Arena to something resembling a party, the Falcons refused to quit, scoring four unanswered goals to make a trip to the CCHA semifinals following Dan DeSalvo’s third goal of the evening, just 2:38 seconds into the overtime period.

TOUGH LOSS: Jordie Johnston makes his way by Bowling Green's Camden Wojtala during first period action on Sunday. (Pioneer photo/Martin Slagter)

The loss likely won’t mean the end of Ferris State’s hockey season, however. The Bulldogs (23-11-5), who were ranked No. 2 in the nation going into the weekend series, seem to be a virtual lock for the NCAA tournament following a CCHA regular season championship. The NCAA will select its 16-team tournament field at noon on Sunday.

That hardly came as much consolation for Ferris State hockey coach Bob Daniels and his team.

“This will take a while,” he said. “It’s going to sting, and that’s good. Then we’ll move forward and have the opportunity to accomplish some things people don’t expect of us.”

The loss will be especially difficult for coaches and players to swallow because of the fashion in which the game and series slipped away. The Bulldogs lit up the Falcons on Saturday, scoring seven goals. That win came after a tough loss on Friday in which FSU played good hockey but couldn’t cash in on key scoring chances.

With three lamp-lighters on the board in the first period, it appeared FSU had punched its ticket to the Joe. Bowling Green, however, had tremendous resolve, coach Chris Bergeron said.

“I’ll say this: This season has had more downs than ups for us,” he said. “The kids deserve to feel the way they’re feeling right now. I’m so proud of them.”

The Bulldogs began the scoring just 3:23 seconds into the first period on a nifty wraparound move by Jordie Johnston that the senior slid past Andrew Hammond.

About 10 minutes later, FSU scored again, this time on a power play opportunity capped by Derek Graham, who scored three goals during the weekend series. The tally was assisted by Simon Denis, who provided a perfect pass to Graham with 6:01 remaining in the period.

The third Bulldog goal came courtesy of a slapshot by freshman Jason Binkley, who knuckled a shot that was difficult for Hammond to handle, trickling past the line to make it 3-0.

In the second period, FSU began to let off the gas, however, Johnston said.

“We were up three goals and playing a pretty solid game,” he said. “We kind of let off the gas a little bit and it showed what happens when you do that against (Bowling Green).”

Despite holding a three-goal advantage after one period, Daniels said the team never seemed comfortable playing with the lead.

“We got up to a 3-0 lead, and if anything, got a little bit pensive,” he said. “It appeared through the second period that we were trying to hold on to win. That’s not the way we played all year.”

The Falcons began to chip away at the lead with 14:01 remaining in the second period, when Ryan Carpenter muscled his way toward the net and beat Nelson to make it 3-1.

Daniels said he still thought the Bulldogs had scoring chances, although they were unable to capitalize on them at key times.

“I felt through the second and even in the third period that we had some opportunities to score another goal,” he said. “Right after they scored their first goal, Jordie (Johnston) within 10 seconds had a breakaway. Had he scored, it’s probably something a little bit different.”

DeSalvo would add two additional BGSU goals, including the equalizer with 4:06 left in regulation, silencing the crowd temporarily while sending the game into overtime.

The Bowling Green freshman continued his hot streak in the CCHA playoffs, tallying four goals in three games against FSU, upping his playoff total to nine goals in six games for the Falcons.

“When we were recruiting Dan, we saw that he had a knack for scoring big goals,” Bergeron said. “It’s nice to see us scoring goals, because we struggled to do that early in the season.”

Daniels also had high praise for the freshman, who was clearly the hero for Bowling Green again over the weekend.

“He’s really coming, obviously,” he said. “He had a great two week stretch here, and had a huge bearing on the outcome of this series. He really was a difference-maker in this series.”

The loss leaves Ferris State in a unique position many didn’t think they would be in, heading into the next two weeks of the postseason.

Daniels said his team will take the day off today and return to practice on Tuesday with a new sense of hunger to prove that they are the team that went on a 14-game unbeaten streak in the second half of the season, and not the one that left the weekend series disappointed at an opportunity missed.

“As difficult as this is to swallow — and let me tell you, this is tough — we’re lucky that we’re going to have another opportunity to move forward, and maybe do some things people don’t expect of us,” he said.

“It’s going to be a tough couple of days for the guys,” he added. “We knew Bowling Green was a good team and this was going to be tough. My heart goes out to those players, but we’ll stand tall and answer the questions, just like we did when we were taking the praise earlier this season.”

Johnston believes the Bulldogs will enter preparation with a sense of hunger.

“I think we have to go through a period where we look at this weekend and figure some things out,” he said.

“We’re definitely going to go forward. We’re not done for the year yet. We want to make a push and finish the year on a different note than we did (Sunday).”

Despite the difficult loss, Daniels said he is still proud of what his team has been able to accomplish so far.

“This team has accomplished an awful lot this season,” he said. “At the beginning of the season, nobody really expected us to finish as regular season champions.”

Visit the photo gallery to see more photos from this game.

Leave a Reply