Postgame Press Conference
Big Rapids, Mich. -- The Ferris State men's ice hockey team moved to 5-0 all-time in Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) quarterfinal games on Friday (March 11) when they defeated the Northern Michigan Wildcats by a final score of 3-2 to open the postseason and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
FSU goals were scored by junior defenseman Ryan Lowney and junior forwards Jared VanWormer and Kyle Schempp in the victory while freshman netminder Darren Smith made 27 saves to earn his first career playoff win.
The Bulldogs struck first at 5:37 of the first period to take a 1-0 lead when Lowney scored his second of the year. Freshmen forwards Jacob Hetz and Trevor Recktenwald earned their third and fourth assist of the season respectively.
Hetz came in on the near side and rifled a pass to the far side where Lowney was wide open and driving the net. Lowney turned and ripped it past Wildcat netminder Mathias Dahlstrom in front of the FSU student section, the Dawg Pound.
VanWormer extended the Bulldog lead to 2-0 at 8:37 of the second when he pumped in a rebound that Dahlstrom left behind in the crease.
Senior defenseman Simon Denis was credited with his seventh helper of the year after shooting the puck off the goal post and into the crease where VanWormer was able to shovel it past the goal line. Junior forward Gerald Mayhew added his team-best and career-high 21st assist on the play with a slick backhand pass to Denis.
The 2-0 lead evaporated in the third when Northern Michigan scored twice in three minutes. Dominik Shine buried his 16th of the year off of a turnover, beating Smith high glove side from the faceoff dot to the left of Smith. Darren Nowick and Zach Urban assisted on the goal at 6:52 of the third.
At 9:47 of the final frame, Shane Sooth tapped in a rebound that Smith left off of his right pad to tie the game at 2-2. Barrett Kaib and Robbie Payne had assists on the goal.
Schempp gave FSU the lead for good with the deciding goal at 12:34 of the third on the power play, making it 3-2.
Junior forward Chad McDonald faked a slapshot from the top of the zone and passed it far side to freshman defensemen Ryker Killins. Killins scooted down the far wall with the puck and laced a low pass in front, where Schempp put a stick on it and deflected it off of Dahlstrom and in.
The goal was Schempp's eighth of the season. Killins notched his second assist of the year, while McDonald picked up his 13th.
Shine had a late chance with an extra attacker, but missed the net for Northern Michigan in the waning moments of the game. McDonald missed the empty net for Ferris State with under a minute to go, but his miss was essentially erased as Nowick charged through Smith and took a late penalty for NMU to all but seal the win for Ferris State.
The Wildcats outshot the Bulldogs 29-26 on the evening. Ferris State finished 1-5 on the man advantage, while Northern Michigan was unsuccessful at 0-4.
Smith now has a 13-9-4 record on the season for the Bulldogs. Dahlstrom fell to 7-4-1 for NMU, and is now 0-3 all-time in playoff starts.
Ferris State advanced to 16-14-6 overall while Northern Michigan fell to 15-15-7.
The Bulldogs and Wildcats are back on the ice for Game 2 of the best-of-three playoff series on Saturday, March 12 at Ewigleben Ice Arena. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:07 pm ET.