Last spring, when Miami University last met Ferris State, the RedHawks were left with a bitter taste in their mouths when they left Big Rapids.
When the two teams met in February of 2008, the then second-ranked RedHawks suffered an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Bulldogs. This time the RedHawks would not let the Bulldogs best them for a third consecutive time. Miami’s Pat Cannone scored a third-period goal to give the RedHawks a 2-2 tie, and when the five-minute overtime ended tied as well, Cannone was the only player to find the net in the shootout to give Miami the shootout win and the extra league point.
Ferris State was able to score first. Just under three minutes into the first period, Scott Wietcha put one right past Miami netminder Cody Reichard off of an assist from Chad Billins. Ferris Stateâ€™s excitement was short lived however. Just three minutes after the Ferris State goal, Miamiâ€™s Justin Mercier scored on a messy play that saw Bulldog goalie Taylor Nelson fall to the ice out of position to make the save. Passes from Jarod Palmer and Pat Cannone aided Mercierâ€™s goal.
Both goalies were playing very well as the game carried on. After each team allowed an early goal, both Reichard and Nelson shut down their opponents, stopping shot after quality shot. The first period saw the whole of the scoring take place within the first six minutes of play. Miami was able to swarm Nelson during the second, literally flying in front of him while they shot, and yet the RedHawks were unable to get past him for the second time.
Reichard was on his A-game as well. Reichard, who had yet to win a game at home prior to Friday nightâ€™s match up, had one of his best efforts of the season, making multiple difficult saves, including an memorable diving stop midway through the second period.
A few questionable calls saw the RedHawks faithful turn on the referees during the action on Friday night.
First, Ray Eichenlaub was sent to the penalty box on a tripping call that was iffy at best, and saw one Ferris State skater go sliding into Reichard and taking him down leaving an empty net opportunity, albeit a short one, for the Bulldogs.
Then a few minutes later Will Webber was sent to the box for a questionable roughing after the whistle call. The second call was enough for Miami head coach Enrico Blasi to speak up in defense of his team, but his argument fell on deaf ears.
As the second period began to wind down it was clear that this game was not going to be a blow out. Miami had won just one game by less than two goals so far in the season, and Ferris State was seemingly able to draw a penalty almost at will. The RedHawks had played a quarter of the game with four men on the ice as the second period drew to a close.
However with just 31.6 second left, the RedHawks had a defensive slip up. With the whole team out of position, the Bulldogâ€™s Aaron Lewicki made short work of a Justin Lewandowski pass and put it right past Reichard.
The end of the period saw an all out brawl featuring nearly all of the players on the ice and all but one of the referees. The young RedHawks team was clearly at a mental disadvantage. The Ferris State players seemed to be able to do the things to get inside the heads of the younger players, something that was evident during the end of the period street fight that took place.
As a result of the melee, the RedHawks lost Trent Vogelhuber and Tommy Wingles, both each for two minute roughing after the whistle penalties and a pair of 10-minute misconducts. Additionally, Ray Eichenlaub for a two minute grasping the facemask penalty and a two-minute roughing after the whistle penalty.
Ferris State lost Justin Menke and Cody Chupp who both received two minute roughing after the whistle penalties and a pair of 10-minute game misconducts. The Bulldogs also lost Wietecha to a two-minute roughing after the whistle call. The massive amount of penalties put players in the penalty boxes for a total of 54 minutes.
â€œWeâ€™ve just got to stick our game and stay disciplined,â€ said Blasi. â€œI thought the guys played really well in the third, it was a good hockey game.â€
Nelson proved his value early on in the third period after he made a trio of consecutive diving saves that kept the RedHawks from tying the game up. Nelson, who by far and away had been the gameâ€™s MVP, stonewalled the Red and White 31 times throughout the course of the night.
The RedHawks usually play a flurrying offense. They shoot the puck as often as possible and until the goalie gets overwhelmed and eventually shuts down. Nelson however was not going to give up another goal that easily. It took almost two full periods, but Pat Cannone was finally able to get the RedHawks their second goal of the night after taking passes from Eichenlaub and Chris Wideman.
As the third period came to a close, both teams remained knotted up at two goals apiece. This meant that both the RedHawks and the Bulldogs would be participating in their third overtime games of the year. The RedHawks came into the game with a loss and a tie in overtime. The Bulldogs mean while skated to ties in both of their overtime games as they both took place in non-conference match ups against Robert Morris.
The RedHawks were given a late advantage when Ferris Stateâ€™s Evan Case was sent to the box for holding. The penalty meant that the Bulldogs were short handed until there was just two seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately the excitement was short lived as Carter Camper went down hard in front of the Ferris State goal and had to be helped off the ice by teammates.
After 65 minutes of hockey, the game was still tied up, and in the CCHA that means just one thing, shootout.
The shootout was the second for the RedHawks this year, with Reichard taking the loss against Ohio State to kick off the season. The Bulldogs had yet to skate to a tie in a conference game and thusly had not experienced an official shootout before. Pat Cannone started off the shout out on the right foot as he was able to slip one past Nelson to take the lead.
The Bulldogs sent out Zach Redmond to answer, but he came up empty handed as Reichard made a great save. After both Miamiâ€™s Carter Camper and Ferris Stateâ€™s Brendan Conolly failed to net goals, Andy Miele needed to score to clinch the win, but his shot nicked off the post and was sent wide.
Ferris State then sent out Blair Riley to keep them in the game, but Riley came up short with the pressure on, as Reichard made his 26th save of the night, clinching his first home victory of his career.
â€œIâ€™m not a big fan [of shootouts],â€ said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels. â€œI voted against it earlier on, and itâ€™s for this reason. Our locker room is dead right now, theyâ€™re devastated, two of the guys that missed just feel awful, and I just thinks thatâ€™s a lot to put on kids, especially in college hockey.â€
These two teams meet again tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. in Oxford.