By @MichaelCaples –
GRAND RAPIDS – Third try’s the charm.
On Saturday night in Grand Rapids, in the midst of the school’s third straight trip to the WCHA Final Five, the Bulldogs finally won the conference playoff title.
Brandon Anselmini and Gerald Mayhew scored for the Bulldogs, as Ferris State beat Minnesota State in the championship game of the WCHA Final Five tournament to avenge two previous losses to the Mavericks and secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs had previously lost to Minnesota State in the Final Five title game in 2014 and the WCHA semifinals in 2015, but they got the job done Saturday night at Van Andel Arena in front of their home crowd.
The win sends Ferris State to the NCAA Tournament the day after they effectively eliminated Michigan Tech from the national playoffs with a 1-0 shutout win in their semifinal showdown in Grand Rapids.
Bulldogs freshman goaltender Darren Smith continued his impressive spring, backstopping his team to a conference title. He was named tournament MVP by the selection committee.
It was a physical WCHA title game that featured multiple ejections for checks from behind, and the game-winning goal came on a penalty shot by Mayhew.
Minnesota State’s Bryce Gervais opening the scoring in the contest, scoring on the Mavericks’ first power-play opportunity of the game. The Mavericks’ record-holder for consecutive games played beat Smith with a long shot to give MSU the early lead.
It was the first goal allowed by Smith during the weekend’s Final Five tournament, after the FSU goaltender blanked Michigan Tech Friday evening.
Anselmini evened the score four minutes later, scoring a power-play goal of his own at the 14:55 mark. The Bulldogs’ defenseman fooled Huggins with a shot from the left face-off circle that got through traffic to even the score at 1-1.
The Bulldogs avoided falling behind late in the first period when they were able to successfully kill off a five-minute major assessed to Jacob Hetz, who was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for checking from behind.
The two teams played scoreless hockey for 19:34 worth of the second period before Minnesota State captain and Fenton native Carter Foguth was whistled for closing his hand on the puck in the Mavericks’ crease. On the ensuing penalty shot, Mayhew beat Huggins with a quick wrist shot to give Ferris State a 2-1 advantage going into the second intermission.
Ferris State and Minnesota State played to a scoreless third period, as the Bulldogs held onto their 2-1 lead through the final 20 minutes of play. A five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct due to a hit from behind by MSU’s Jaden Schmeisser put Ferris State on a lengthy power play during the closing minutes of the contest; his penalty expired with 43 seconds remaining in regulation.
Stay tuned for more from Van Andel Arena…