The weekend was only slightly kind to the Michigan west side teams: Western Michigan earned a 1-1 tie against University of Alaska-Fairbanks on Friday, only to suffer a 5-3 loss on Saturday. Similarly, Ferris State skated to a 3-3 tie with the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday and then dropped a 3-2 decision on Saturday evening. These results find both teams in the lower half of the CCHA heading into tournament play.
Friday's contest started well for Ferris State. Greg Rallo capitalized on a power play to score his 16th goal of the season and put the Bulldogs on the board. Dan Riedel and Corey Couturier were credited with the assists. A few minutes later, Jeremy Scherlinck (pictured) set up Mark Bomersback to widen Ferris's lead. Three straight goals for the host Buckeyes seemed to turn the game in the opposite direction, but Scherlinck's power play tally at 12:14 of the second period tied the game up.
Ferris goaltender Mitch O'Keefe, who would finish the night with 15 saves, staved off all Ohio State's shots for the rest of the game (including one in overtime), but his teammates could not light the lamp and the game ended in a 3-3 tie.
Scherlinck got Saturday's game underway with his third point of the weekend: he combined with Matt Verdone to set up Adam Welch on the power play. Welch continued to make the most of extra-man opportunities--at 12:39 of the second period, he set up Zac Pearson for the Bulldogs' second goal of the night. Adam Miller was also credited with an assist.
Just like Friday, Ohio State responded with three consecutive goals; but unlike Friday, those goals would go unanswered, and Ferris had to settle for the 3-2 loss. O'Keefe finished with 31 saves.
Ferris (14-13-7; 9-11-6 CCHA) will face Michigan next weekend in their last regular-season series of the year.
Though Western managed only a point against UAF on Friday, it was a hard-fought game and a point they were glad to earn. Going into the final period, the Nanooks had outshot the Broncos 15-7 and beat Western goalie Dan Bellissimo for a one-goal lead.
But at 6:29 of the third period, Brian Bicek connected with Kevin Labatte to set up Brett John for his first season goal. Western outshot UAF 5-3 in overtime, but could not convert. Bellissimo, however, remained steady, finished with 26 saves, and helped preserve the tie for the Broncos.
WMU coach Jim Culhane praised his team's effort. ÂUAF is a big, physical team and we earned a valuable point playing in a tough environment on the road," he said.
On Saturday night, UAF established a two-goal lead before Dave Krisky netted his fourth of the season to put the Broncos on the board. Paul Szczechura and Ryan Mahrle earned assists on the play.
Down 3-1 heading in to the final period, Mahrle and Jeff LoVecchio set up Jason Moul to pull the Broncos within a goal. A 16:14 Nanook goal was answered forty seconds later by Szczechura, who scored with a little help from Jonathan Lupa and Steve Silver.
After stopping 31 shots, Bellissimo was pulled by Culhane in a last try to send the goal to overtime, but an empty-net goal sealed the 5-3 loss for the Broncos.
Western (7-22-5, 6-16-4 CCHA) will host Nebraska-Omaha next weekend in their final regular season series.