Anything can happen in the one-and-done NCAA Hockey Tournament. Though St. Cloud State came into the tournament as the second overall team in the country, while Ferris State snuck into the NCAA Tournament thanks to winning the WCHA's bid, it never appeared that way on the ice this afternoon. Ferris State's Jared VanWormer tapped in a rebound goal just 18 seconds into overtime to give Ferris State a 5-4 victory, ending St. Cloud State's season and advancing the Bulldogs to the tomorrow's West Regional final.
Ferris State struck first on a rebound goal by Mitch Maloney, but the Huskies struck back just 17 seconds later, setting the tone for the evening of Ferris State building a lead, and St. Cloud State answering back.
The Bulldogs took a 4-2 lead into the third period when Mikey Eyssimont scored 4:38 into the third period, his second of the game, on the power play to bring the Huskies within in, and bring the highly partisan home state crowd back into the game. Joey Benik tied the game off a scramble in front at 11:29, setting up a wild back-and-forth finish as both teams came very close to scoring the winning goal.
In the overtime, it was the Bulldogs taking one final lead. Gerald Mayhew brought the puck into the St. Cloud State on a 2-on-2 rush. He eluded a St. Cloud State defender and put a shot off the paddle of Husky goalie Charlie Lindgren, leaving a fat rebound in front of the net for VanWormer to put in for the winner.
Ferris State will face the winner of the second semifinal between Denver and Boston University. For St. Cloud State, the season ends with 31-9-1 record.
Notes and Thoughts:
-The popular narrative is going to be underdog Ferris State successfully slowing down St. Cloud State, but Ferris State skated with St. Cloud State all game long in a relatively up-and-down game, scoring five goals to get the win. I mentioned this year when I saw Ferris State play at the Mariucci Classic that they were maybe a year away from being the type of veteran Bob Daniels team that has made noise in the NCAA Tournament before. After the game, Gerald Mayhew said the Mariucci Class was a bit of a turning point for Ferris State's team, and Jared VanWormer said he felt like the Bulldogs had underachieved a bit prior to the end of their season. They're definitely rolling at the right time right now and are a very tough hockey team.
-What a heartbreaking end to an incredible season for St. Cloud State. What hurts even more is how uncharacteristic this loss was for them. The Huskies had been so sound defensively and in net all year, and today, they just never looked comfortable. Charlie Lindgren recovered to make some huge saves late in the game, but he really struggled through the first two periods. He was caught too deep in his net multiple times in the first period, including the first two goals, and the third goal was a very soft goal. Lindgren had an amazing season, he just had a bad day at the absolute worst time.
Same goes for the St. Cloud State defense, who had been stalwart all season. But four turnovers led to the first four goals, and a 2-on-2 breakdown led to the winner.
-But give St. Cloud State credit for fighting back on what was clearly not their best day. Ferris State tried to lock things down defensively in the third period, but St. Cloud State's offense, especially on the power play, was just too good. The Husky power play still goes down as one of the best I've ever seen.
-After the game, St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko was very complimentary of the St. Cloud fans that showed up tonight. The crowd was bigger than Motzko expected, and bigger than I expected. Unfortunately, they're all going home disappointed, and crowds should be very ugly both tonight and tomorrow.
-Motzko was also very gracious towards Ferris State post-game, and said all the right things. But he did make very specific mention of "2pm start time" when talking about the game. It's a Catch-22 for coaches. The early start time is a benefit if the team wins because of the extra rest for the next day, but it's also so out of the ordinary compared to what teams do throughout the year and it can really throw off a team's routine.
-Maybe I'll get to a full St. Cloud State post-mortem at some point at a later date, but for now, one bad afternoon should do very little to negate what was a phenomenal year for the Huskies. For a team picked to finish in the bottom half of their league, they put together an incredible season that was a real joy to follow.
Shots on goal: SCSU: 10-13-10-0-33 FSU: 9-9-11-2-31
Even strength shot attempts: SCSU: 12-16-19-0-47-49.5% FSU: 14-17-15-2-48-50.5%
Prime scoring area attempts: SCSU: 8-6-10-0-24 FSU: 7-3-6-2-18
What do the numbers tell us?
This was a pretty even up-and-down game with both teams getting quality chances. Ferris State benefited from some soft, uncharacteristic goals from Charlie Lindgren, which negated the advantage St. Cloud State had with two power play goals. It came down to which team made the last play, and it was Ferris State.
2:56 Mitch Maloney from Brandon Anselmini 1-0 Ferris State
Anselmini skated the puck deep into the St. Cloud State zone down the right wing and fed a puck towards the front of the net. Maloney skated hard to the net front and got two whacks at the puck. His second attempt at the rebound beat Lindgren to the right pad side.
3:13 Jacob Benson from Robby Jackson and Blake Winiecki 1-1 tie
17 seconds after the Ferris State goal, the Huskies answered back when Robby Jackson flipped a pass to the front of the net from the top of the left face-off dot. Benson was there to redirect the puck past Smith for the goal.
19:37 Jared VanWormer from Trevor Recktenwald 2-1 Ferris State
VanWormer created a turnover in the neutral zone. He can into the zone on the left wing and dropped a pass towards Recktenwald on a 2-on-2. Both St. Cloud State defenders lunged for the drop pass, but Recktenwald got his stick there first, poking it to a wide open VanWormer, who buried his mini-breakaway past Lindgren.
1:04 Kenny Babinski from Matt Robertson 3-1 Ferris State
Babinski took a long wrist shot from the right half boards that fooled Lindgren and snuck underneath his blocker for the goal.
4:56 MIkey Eyssimont from Kalle Kossila and Ethan Prow (power play) 3-2 Ferris State
Eyssimont dangled through the Ferris State defense on the power play and beat Smith low on a shot off the rush.
Tremendous goal from St Cloud, Kossila to Eyssimont - St Cloud back within one pic.twitter.com/ok8yCRZIT5— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) March 26, 2016
12:01 Gerald Mayhew from Jared VanWormer 4-2 Ferris State
VanWormer chipped a puck out to the slot from behind the net. It landed on Mayhew's stick and he buried a wrist shot to the top shelf.
4:38 Mikey Eyssimont from Joey Benik and Kalle Kossila (power play) 4-3 Ferris State
Benik had an open shot from the top of the left circle. He missed the net to the near side, but the puck hit off the back boards and bounced to Eyssimont on the opposite side of the net, who put it back into the wide open net.
11:29 Joey Benik from Jimmy Murray and Jimmy Schuldt 4-4 tie
Off a scramble in front of the net, the puck popped free to Benik in the slot and he put the puck into an open net.
0:18 Jared VanWormer from Gerald Mayhew 5-4 Ferris State
Mayhew skated the puck into the zone on a 2-on-2 rush. He put a low shot on goal and the rebound kicked out to VanWormer for the winning goal.