Articles by Christopher Brian Dudek / Courtesy of USCHO.com
Miami hadn't won an away game yet this season. Ferris State (9-16-3, 4-13-3 CCHA) hadn't won a game in its last four.
Something was going to give, and Miami's Chris Michael was the difference Friday as he scored in overtime to give the RedHawks a 4-3 win at Ferris State.
Michael's goal came on the power play while the Bulldogs were struggling in their own zone. Ferris State goaltender Mike Brown stopped the initial shot and couldn't freeze it. The puck squirted free and found its way onto the stick of Michael, who made no mistake and put the puck in the net.
"I don't think we played a bad game," Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said. "We just need to work on the little things. One of those things is the undisciplined penalties we are taking. Miami scored all their goals on the power play, and when we are taking bad penalties, it is going to cost us."
Miami dominated the first period, in part due to a major penalty and a game misconduct on Bulldog captain Matt York. Even though the shots were close in the period, the scoring chances were in Miami's favor, and the scoresheet reflected that when the period ended.
Miami made it 1-0 at 6:53 when Matt Christie unleashed a screened shot that went between the legs of Brown. Andy Greene then made it 2-0 at 14:42 while on the power play, as Todd Grant passed the puck down to Greene, who beat Brown to the short side.
The Bulldogs came out with new life in the second period. Zac Pearson's shot at 9:18 got the Bulldogs on the board. Jeff Legue wristed a shot toward the net, and Pearson was there to put the puck in the back of the net to make it 2-1.
But Miami got its two-goal lead back just 50 seconds later. Charley Fetzer's slapshot from the point nicked the top corner of the net at 10:08.
The last five minutes of the second period were dominated by the Bulldogs as they outshot and outpassed the RedHawks. Greg Rallo brought the Bulldogs back to a one-goal deficit at 17:16. Derek Nesbitt passed the puck down low to Rallo, who picked the far side of the net to make it 3-2.
The tying goal in the second period came off the stick of Mark Bomersback, who put the puck on net from a sharp angle. The puck had eyes, though, and squirted behind goaltender Charlie Effinger, barely crossing the line before a Miami defenseman could clear. After a conference with the goal judge, the goal stood and the game was tied.
Both teams skated cautiously at first in the third period. With time running down and the score tied, neither side wanted to make that fatal error. Both teams exchanged power plays, but each goaltender was equal to the task.
Miami took a critical penalty with 4:40 left to go in the game, but still got the best chance. Christie almost had his second goal of the game on an odd-man rush, but Brown dove over and flipped his legs up to stop the shot.
Miami got a chance at redemption with 30 seconds left with a power play of its own, carrying the rest of the power play into overtime for Michael's goal.
"I have to admire this team," Daniels said. "They show up, work hard, and give it 100 percent every night. Our struggles are not due to us not playing hard, I will tell you that much. I am lucky as a coach to have a team like this that is willing to give it their all. We just need to not look at the wins and losses and concentrate on playing the next game."
Miami's struggles before this weekend were well-known. Now, the RedHawks look to have the momentum to sneak into the playoff home-ice picture after a 5-3 victory and a sweep of Ferris State on the road.
On Saturday, Nathan Davis' wrist shot from the slot that hit the far post and went in was the game winner at 16:18.
"The OT game last night led into this one and we responded," Miami coach Enrico Blasi said. "I think the team rallied around [netminder] Charlie Effinger tonight. They want to play in front of him, and his effort showed that he wants to continue to play."
"Once again, I thought we played well tonight," Bulldogs coach Bob Daniels said. "I think our weak spot these last two games was our goaltending. I don't want to put it all on their shoulders, but there were a couple goals they should have had. In these tight games, the other goalies aren't giving these goals up."
Miami had the extra jump in the first period as the RedHawks had a clear advantage in scoring opportunities. Bulldog goaltender Derek MacIver stopped the shot on three odd-man rushes early, but a quick power play by Miami gave the 'Hawks an early lead.
At 4:42, Marty Guerin made the Bulldogs pay for another undisciplined penalty. Chris Michael's shot missed just wide and hit the boards behind the net. Guerin was there on the other side of the net to shoot the puck into the open side of the net to make it 1-0.
After that goal, the Bulldog defense shored up and both teams were working hard just to get their shots off. Both goaltenders easily made the saves when the shots were to the outside.
The second period featured more of the same — with plenty of defensive play by both teams to start out. Bulldog defenseman Andrew Winnik was given a major penalty for hitting from behind, but Miami couldn't cash in on the opportunity. Ferris State had a late spark in the period, but Effinger was there to keep the Bulldogs off the board.
Early in the third period, Carter Thompson finally got through the armor of the Miami goaltender. Thompson unleashed a shot from a sharp angle that deflected off a Miami defenseman and went into the back of the net.
But Miami answered at the 7:04 mark when Guerin got his second goal of the game off a screened shot from the point that hit the top corner of the net just above the glove of MacIntyre.
The Bulldogs tied it up once again at 8:15 while on the power play. Greg Rallo passed the puck to the point to Jeff Legue and with Effinger screened, Legue made no mistake and ripped a shot upstairs on the Miami goaltender to tie the game at 2.
With the game tied, Ferris State was awarded two straight power-play opportunities. The first one expired without incident, but the second one gave the momentum back to Miami. Davis capitalized on an odd-man rush at 15:19 to give the lead back to the RedHawks.
Derek Nesbitt scored with the extra attacker to bring the lead back to one, but Ryan Jones' empty-net goal for Miami completed the scoring.