Postgame Press Conference
Big Rapids, Mich. — Back-to-back third period power play goals from junior forward Gerald Mayhew propelled the Ferris State men's ice hockey team to a Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) first round playoff series sweep of the Northern Michigan Wildcats on Saturday (March 12), as the Bulldogs went on to win 5-2 and advance to Van Andel Arena for the WCHA Final Five.
While Mayhew paced Ferris State with two goals, fellow junior forward Chad McDonald added a goal and two assists. Junior forward Jared VanWormer and freshman forward Mitch Maloney also had empty net goals in the game, while freshman goaltender Darren Smith backstopped the Bulldogs to victory with 21 stops on 23 shots.
It was the Wildcats that drew first blood, scoring at 13:33 of the first on the power play when Robbie Payne scored from Zach Urban and Zach Diamantoni. Urban faked a shot and passed from the blue line down to the far side of the net where Payne kicked the pass to himself and swatted the puck past Smith for a 1-0 lead.
Ferris State responded at 16:14 of the first when McDonald deflected a shot from sophomore defenseman Tyler Dorantes over the shoulder of Northern Michigan goaltender Atte Tolvanen to even the score at 1-1. The goal was McDonald's career-high 10th of the year. Dorantes earned his seventh assist of the season, while senior forward Matt Robertson notched his 10th.
In the second period, neither team struck for a goal, but NMU junior forward Dominik Shine was served a five-minute major penalty for contact to the head and a game misconduct, ending his night. Ferris State failed to score on the ensuing five-minute power play.
Wildcat senior forward Darren Nowick gave Northern Michigan a 2-1 lead at 5:22 of the third period when he beat Smith over the shoulder for his 14th goal of the year from Anthony Paskaruk and Denver Pierce.
Time remaining soon became a factor for the Bulldogs who trailed into the final seven minutes of regulation, but a second five-minute major and game misconduct was assessed to NMU. This time, Ryan Trenz was ejected from the game for checking-from-behind, and Ferris State capitalized twice on the ensuing power play.
At 16:00 of the third, Mayhew shot a puck from the faceoff circle to the right of the NMU net, lacing it through the stacked pads of Tolvanen for his team-best 12th goal of the year. VanWormer hauled in his 10th assist of the season, while junior forward Kyle Schempp added his 15th.
37 seconds later, Mayhew added his 13th goal of the season, which turned out to be the game-winner, giving Ferris State a 3-2 lead. Mayhew flew from end-to-end dodging defenders before putting a shot off of Tolvanen's shoulder. The puck popped up in the air and landed behind him in the net, giving the Bulldogs their second goal on that power play. McDonald earned his 14th assist of the season on Mayhew's second goal of the night.
Ferris State would add two empty net goals at 19:05 when Maloney scored his fifth of the year from Robertson (11) and McDonald (15), and at 19:48 when VanWormer scored his fifth goal of the year from Mayhew (22).
Smith improved to 14-9-5 while Ferris State's overall record moved to 17-14-6. Tolvanen took the loss for NMU, stopping 32 of 35 shots, and falling to 6-10-6 on the season. Tolvanen finished the year with a 0-3-0 record vs. Ferris State.
Ferris State is now 6-0 all-time in first round WCHA playoff games, and earned their first home weekend series sweep of the season with Saturday night's win.
The Bulldogs have advanced to their third consecutive WCHA Final Five. For the second time in three years, they'll travel to Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. The opponent and game time are still to be determined. Stay tuned to FerrisStateBulldogs.com for more information as the WCHA playoffs continue.