Grand Rapids, Mich. - An overtime goal from freshman forward Gerald Mayhew lifted the nationally fourth-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team to a exciting 5-4 victory over Alaska Anchorage and into the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Final Five Championship game at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
Mayhew scored after a faceoff win from near the top of the circle 2:38 into the extra stanza for his second goal of the game as the Bulldogs stormed the ice and a mostly all Bulldog crowd of 4,494 fans went into a frenzy.
The win lifts the WCHA Regular-Season Champion Bulldogs into Saturday night's title contest at Van Andel Arena against Minnesota State. The two teams will play for the Broadmoor Trophy and the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament with faceoff set for 7:07 p.m. (ET).
With the large Bulldog crowd behind them, the Bulldogs jumped out to the early advantage by scoring twice in the first 6:31 of the contest.
Mayhew opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the campaign on a power-play only 4:41 into the game. It was assisted by senior Cory Kane, who tallied his 15th assist of the year. Kane dropped the puck for Mayhew near the top of the crease for the chip past Alaska Anchorage netminder Rob Gunderson.
FSU then added another goal only 1:50 later when junior forward Justin Buzzeo found the back of the net for his 14th goal of the season. He stopped inside the circle and got the shot over the shoulder of Gunderson. Senior forward Garrett Thompson and sophomore defenseman Brandon Anselmini picked up their 15th and 11th assists of the year, respectively.
However, the Seawolves answered at 8:54 of the opening period when Brett Cameraon picked up his 10th goal this season on a tip in front of the net that just got by FSU junior goaltender and 2014 Hobey Baker Award finalist CJ Motte. It came off assists from Austin Coldwell, who fed the puck near the net, along with Blake Leask.
UAA then tied the contest back up at 7:16 of the second period when Austin Coldwell found the back of the net for his sixth lamplighter of the year.
The Seawolves took their first lead of the night less than two minutes later as Zack Russell put a rebound shot past Motte for his third marker of the campaign off assists from Dylan Hubbs and Andrew Pettit.
Alaska Anchorage's Hudson Friesen then gave UAA a 4-2 lead with his third goal this season at 11:22 of the second period. Both Tanner Dusyk and Hayden Trupp picked up the helpers.
Ferris State responded as senior forward Garrett Thompson tallied his team-leading 16th goal on a two-on-one situation at 12:50 of the middle frame to trim the margin back to 4-3 in the second.
Thompson's goal sparked the Bulldogs and brought the crowd to life as momentum swung back in FSU's favor. Soon after, senior forward Andy Huff directed a shot into the net at 15:29 of the second to tie the game back up. His 11th goal this season was aided by junior defenseman Jason Binkley along with freshman blueliner Ryan Lowney.
The two teams went into the second intermission tied at four goals apiece, but after a middle frame in which five total goals were scored, neither team was able to find the back of the net in the third.
Mayhew's overtime goal was assisted by Kane, who picked up his second helper of the evening. Both of his assists came on goals from Mayhew as the duo teamed up for the first and last goals of the night.
Alaska Anchorage held a decided 38-23 edge in total shots, but FSU had two of the three opportunities in the extra frame. The Seawolves outshot the Bulldogs 13-4 in the first period and also totaled 12 shots apiece in both the second and the third periods to eight and nine for FSU in each frame.
Motte finished with 34 saves in net for Ferris State while improving his nation-leading mark to 27-7-3 in net this year. Meanwhile, Rob Gunderson had eight saves and gave up four goals for UAA in the initial 40 minutes before giving way to Chris Kamal, who had 10 saves before the Bulldogs' game-winner.
Ferris State was called for three penalties totaling six minutes in the box with UAA totaling two penalties for four minutes. The Bulldogs held Alaska Anchorage scoreless in three power-play opportunities with FSU scoring once in two tries.
With the victory, Ferris State won its 28th contest of the year, which leads the nation. The Bulldogs are 28-9-3 overall heading into Saturday night's title game. Meanwhile, the Seawolves had their season come to a close with a 18-16-4 record.
Saturday night's title game appearance in the Bulldogs' debut season in the WCHA will represent FSU's first trip to a conference title game since facing Michigan in the CCHA Championship Game in 2003 at Joe Louis Arena.
Regardless of Saturday night's title game, the Bulldogs are virtually assured of making the NCAA Tournament when official selections are announced in a live televised broadcast on Sunday at noon. FSU will hold a "Selection Show" watch party at Buffalo Wild Wings in Big Rapids beginning at 11 a.m.
Tickets for Saturday night's title game can be purchased thru the Van Andel Arena Box Office. The game will also be shown live on Fox Sports Detroit.