In front of sellout crowds and with a first round bye in the CCHA Tournament on the line, the Bulldogs battled for recognition in the seniors’ last weekend playing inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena during the regular season.
Ferris had many in the crowd on their feet on Friday as it took several shots to begin the game. Late in the third period fans were cheering for a comeback, but Notre Dame’s goaltending kept the Bulldogs tame.
“Ferris came out with a lot of energy and I expected that and we made some bad plays with the puck that led to some scoring chances,” said Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson.
Notre Dame defeated the Bulldogs 3-2 on Friday, snapping Ferris’ five-game winning streak. Ferris held a narrow 39-37 edge in shots on goal over Notre Dame. Senior goaltender Pat Nagle stopped 13 shots in the second period and 15 in the third to help drive the Bulldogs as they searched for the equalizing goal.
“The goal that was the most painful was the third goal,” said Ferris head coach Bob Daniels. “We took a poor penalty that put them on the power play.”
Bulldog senior left winger Mike Embach score his nation-leading fifth shorthanded goal of the season. Sophomore Matthew Kirzinger took advantage of a power play and scored his third goal of the season.
On Saturday night, eight Bulldog seniors were honored. In the first period, Notre Dame held a 17-7 advantage in shots on goal. Notre Dame scored the first goal, but Ferris came back during a power play opportunity to tie it up 1-1.
Ferris fought back after the second Irish goal by scoring the equalizer off of power play chances. But as the third and fourth goals for Notre Dame sailed past Nagle, the Bulldogs failed to respond with goals of their own. Freshman defenseman Scott Czarnowczan scored his first collegiate goal in the first and junior right wing Aaron Schmit scored his fifth of the season in the second.
“To me, senior night was an emotional night and I really wish we could have earned the win and got the split for the weekend,” said Embach.
Notre Dame defeated Ferris 5-2 on Saturday, dropping the Bulldogs to 16-14-4 overall and 11-12-13-2 in the CCHA. Ferris is contending for a first round bye in the CCHA tournament. In order to earn the bye, the Bulldogs need to be in the top five of the CCHA standings. Ferris is currently three league points off of fifth place or one league win.
“Right now our focus is on winning and making it to the Joe (Louis Arena),” said Embach.
The Bulldogs finish their regular season Feb. 24-25 on the road with a two-game series against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Opening faceoff will be at 7:05 p.m. for both outings against the Buckeyes at the Value City Arena in Columbus. n