The Chargers were back at the Von Braun Center for the first time in 10 months, although it has seemed like eons. They wanted to treat the fans who supported them when a future did not seem possible.
And treat them they did in thrilling fashion. Ben Allen scored with 2.4 seconds remaining in regulation to tie, and Dayne Finnson blasted the game-winning goal in a 5-4 UAH overtime win over Ferris State on Friday night.
A socially-distanced crowd of 1,124 erupted as the Chargers (1-5-1 overall, 1-2-0 WCHA) clinched their first victory in seven games this year and the first under head coach Lance West. UAH snapped a 14-game winless streak going back to last season.
UAH will be going for the series sweep Saturday night at 7 p.m.
The Chargers threw just about everything they could at Ferris State freshman goaltender Logan Stein, who was making his season debut after finishing the world junior championship with a gold medal as Team USA’s backup. UAH had 45 shots on goal, the most in a game since 2015.
The game was a constant back-and-forth, testing both Stein and UAH goalie David Fessenden, who stopped 26 of 30 FSU shots.
UAH started with a strong power play, but it was Ferris State (0-7-0, 0-3-0) that scored the first goal. Antonio Venuto poked the puck through Fessenden’s left side at the 4:32 mark.
UAH answered with another power play, and this one was successful. Tyrone Bronte from the slot deflected Finnson’s pass from the left point over Stein’s glove to tie the game at 1-1 with 7:03 remaining in the first.
The Chargers took a 2-1 lead at 5:31 of the second period. Tyr Thompson’s blast from the right side rebounded off Stein to Drew Lennon in the left circle, and Lennon drove the puck home.
Ferris State tied the game back up at 2-2 around halfway through the contest on Coale Norris’s putback from the slot.
UAH survived a scare in the second half of the second period after getting back-to-back slashing penalties. But the Chargers and Fessenden’s three crucial saves kept the game even through two.
The Chargers had a big chance to pull ahead with a two-man advantage with about 12 minutes to go in regulation. Allen had a prime chance point blank denied by Stein and a Lennon blast hit the crossbar, but UAH came up empty.
The Bulldogs took a 3-2 lead not long after on a Mitch Deelstra goal, beginning a stirring stretch of goals in the final 7:30 of regulation.
UAH re-tied the game with 4:22 in regulation with its second power-play goal. Tyr Thompson’s wrister from the left circle resulted in his team-leading third goal of the season, giving Mick Heneghan his first career point with the primary assist.
Ferris State answered under two minutes later on a Justin Michaelian goal, and it appeared the Chargers might be destined for their fourth one-goal loss of the season.
Not so fast, said UAH. With Fessenden pulled with the extra attacker and time winding down, the Chargers mounted one final rush. Lennon sent the puck up to Quinn Green just before the blue line, who fed it to Allen, who wristed the puck past Stein with 2.4 seconds remaining to tie the game at 4-4.
The officials confirmed the goal after checking video replay to make sure the Chargers were onside after Green took the puck.
UAH got the overtime game-winner with its third power-play goal. The Bulldogs were called for too many men on the ice, giving the Chargers a 4-on-3 advantage. Finnson’s one-timer in the right circle on a feed from Bauer Neudecker beat Stein glove side with 2:30 left in the 3-on-3 period.
While the Chargers were 3-for-6 on the power play, they killed all five of Ferris State’s advantages.