Ferris State Hockey found themselves in deep water when a physical Bowling Green State team came to Big Rapids.
Despite being outmuscled for most of the evening, the Bulldogs were able to come out the other side with a 3-3 tie.
The effort was supplemented by junior goaltender CJ Motte’s performance. Head Coach Bob Daniels called it “His best game of the year in my opinion.”
After a scoreless first period, Falcon’s goaltender Tommy Burke committed a costly gaffe, turning over the puck on a powerplay while in the face off circle playing the puck.
Freshman forward Chad McDonald was on the other end of that turnover, where he wristed in his second goal of the season at 2:20 in the second period.
McDonald was one of six freshmen to get the call tonight, as all of the freshmen skaters were active.
“We’re really happy with where the freshmen are right now,” Daniels said. “But I’ll tell you this, I think tonight was kind of an eye opener for them. They’re kind of thinking I’ve got this college hockey thing figured out and then you run into a team like Bowling Green, it made them rethink it a little.”
The Falcons continued to carry the play, but were unable to sneak anything past Motte until 5:02 in the third period when Connor Kucera beat Motte for his second goal of the season.
The goal ignited the Bowling Green bench, and captain Cam Wojtala found the back of the net next at 13:10 in the third period.
With the Bulldogs pinned in their own zone, Brent Tate deflected in a backbreaking goal off a shot from Latvia native Ralfs Freiberg to put the Falcons up 3-1.
Ferris was given a powerplay chance when Dan DeSalvo went to the box for roughing at 16:55, but the powerplay was negated when Bulldog’s forward Andy Huff went to the box for holding.
With the added open ice that comes with four-on-four play, junior forward Justin Buzzeo pulled a pretty stop and dish play to senior forward Garrett Thompson, who beat Burke easily to bring the Bulldogs within a goal with 1:56 left in regulation.
Daniels made the necessary call to Motte, and with nine seconds to play in regulation, captain Scott Czarnowczan made a beautiful cross ice pass to senior forward Cory Kane, who launched a seed that he planted in the back of the Falcon’s net.
“Czarnowczan, Buzzeo, and Thompson did their thing where they kind of move the puck around and I just faded away to the weak side,” Kane said. “Luckily they found me and I was able to put it home.
The overtime period was extremely conservative until Kane stole the puck and broke away towards the Bowling Green net.
Kane, normally a dangler, froze Burke with his lack of deking, and ripped a shot that Burke barely got a piece of with his blocker.
The shot flew harmlessly to the glass behind Burke, and the Bulldog’s held on for the tie as the buzzer rang.
Unlike the old CCHA, there are no shootouts in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
“I’ve never been in a shootout,” Thompson said. “To be honest I kind of practiced it this summer just for fun and what not and I got a move down. Not having it is a little bit of an upset because there’s that extra point, but in the end you just gotta live with it.”