Coming off of a four game road trip that saw them come up fruitless, Lake Superior State needed a bounce back win to snap a six game losing streak as they entered Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) play.
The Ferris State Bulldogs did not allow the drought to end quietly.
The Lakers (3-6-0, 1-0-0 WCHA) held a 2 goal lead late in the 3rd period, but two quick goals by the Bulldogs (2-4-0, 0-3-0 WCHA) forced overtime, where Max Humitz found the back of the net to claim a 5-4 victory at the Taffy Abel Arena.
Lake Superior came out hungry in the opening period, peppering Bulldogs netminder Roni Salmenkangas with many quality shots, including a crossbar. The native of Tampere, Finland, held off the Lakers’ onslaught. His goaltending counterpart across the ice, Mareks Mitens, stopped all 6 shots he saw in the opening period, sending the teams back to the dressing room tied 0-0 after one period.
After holding their respective opponents scoreless, it was Salmenkangas who blinked first. Laker defenceman Mitch Oliver drilled a shot on net that Salmenkanags initially stopped, but gave up a big rebound that found the stick of sophomore forward Pete Veillette, who hit the wide open net, breaking the scoreless deadlock.
Ferris State did not wait long to respond, as Jake Transit scored his 2nd goal of the season, getting the Bulldogs on the board. A mere 2:02 later, Jason Tackett capitalized on a power play, allowing Ferris State to take their first lead of the night.
Late in the second period, the Lakers found themselves with a two man advantage, as Marshall Moise was off for cross checking, while the Bulldogs were serving a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Two posts spared Ferris State from suffering any damage on the attempt, however, as the visitors held a slim 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Lake Superior amped up the pressure on Salmenkangas and the Bulldog D corps as the 3rd period wore on, with Ashton Calder breaking thru for the Lakers, tying the score at 2 goals apiece with 13:36 remaining.
The Lakers had a golden opportunity to retake the lead midway thru the 3rd period when Ferris State’s Oskar Andren closed his hand around the puck while standing in the crease and made a hand pass, which led to a Laker penalty shot. Max Humitz took the shot, but was stopped by Salmenkangas.
Although they failed to convert on the penalty shot, Lake Superior kept pressing, and a shot by Collin Saccoman from the right circle was tipped by Will Reidell, putting the Lakers ahead 3-2.
A throwing the stick penalty was assessed to Ferris State’s Connor Fedorek, which enabled Lake Superior to go up by two goals, as Calder potted his second of the night with 5:01 left to play.
Down but not out, the Bulldogs responded over a minute later when Brendan MacLaren cut the Ferris State deficit to one goal. Showing a never-say-die attitude, the team from Big Rapids found the tying goal thanks to Tackett cashing in again, which sent the contest to overtime, deadlocked at 4.
Overtime saw Lake Superior dominate, outshooting the Bulldogs 6-1. With under 30 seconds to play, Humitz found the back of the net, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Though he was not tested as often as Salmenkangas, Mitens made a number of big saves himself, including a huge one with under 3:00 to play to preserve the then-lead, tallying up 24 by the end of the game. Salmenkangas made 35 saves on 40 shots in defeat.
The series will conclude on Saturday night with a 7 p.m. faceoff.