Playoff spot on hold after UAH falls to FSU

The Chargers missed a chance to seal their WCHA playoff berth on Saturday. Instead, it will come down to the final week of the regular season.

Ferris State defeated UAH 5-2, splitting the series and pulling back to within four points of the Chargers for the eighth and final playoff spot. UAH has 25 points, while Ferris State has 21.

A tie or better would have done the job for the Chargers (7-25-2 overall, 7-17-2-2 WCHA), who ended up splitting the season series with the Bulldogs at 2-2-0.

The magic number for UAH is three points. Any combination of UAH points won and Ferris State points lost totaling three will put the Chargers back in the WCHA playoffs. Or in simplest terms: A UAH win or a Ferris State loss.

UAH goes to Bowling Green next week, while Ferris State (9-22-3, 6-17-3-0) heads to Lake Superior State. If UAH and FSU end up tied in points at the end, FSU would win the tiebreaker by having a better conference winning percentage.

In this game, there was lots of action and shots on goal in the first period, with Ferris State getting 16 to UAH’s 13.

Hans Gorowsky was probably the busiest among those who were not goaltenders. He had a one-timer kicked away by FSU goaltender Roni Salmenkangas during a power play, and then denied by Salmenkangas on a shorthanded break.

But the third chance was the charm for Gorowsky, who put UAH up 1-0 with his 11th goal of the season at the 12:25 mark. He spun in the slot and beat Salmenkangas stick side.

Ferris State took full control of the second period, breaking through on Mark Sinclair with three goals to take its first lead of the series. Sinclair had shut the Bulldogs out on Friday with 35 saves in a 2-0 UAH win.

Lucas Finner tied the game at 6:54 right as a power play expired. Craig Pefley put FSU up 2-1 at 14:05, and top Bulldog freshman Cooper Zech made it a two-goal advantage with 2:05 left in the period.

The Bulldogs had outshot the Chargers 11-3 before UAH got a couple of pucks on Salmenkangas in a power play at the end of the frame.

That power play bled into the start of the third, and the Chargers capitalized 29 seconds in. Christian Rajic tipped in Connor James’s blast from the right point. Video review checked to see if Rajic’s stick was too high, but the officials found it acceptable and UAH’s deficit was 3-2.

Ferris State regained a two-goal lead with its own power play goal following Bailey Newton’s third penalty of the game. Nate Kallen’s shot up the middle found its way past Sinclair and it was 4-2 Bulldogs with 15:48 remaining.

UAH couldn’t muster many chances to rally, getting only two shots on goal in the third. The best chance came when Connor Merkley made a steal for a breakaway, but Salmenkangas (18 saves) came up big again with the pad with 2:21 remaining.

Pefley added an empty-net goal with 52 seconds to go to seal the win.

Header file photo by Todd Thompson/RiverCat Photography.