Men’s Hockey Ends Thrilling Run in NCAA Regional Semis

Spencer Serling

The Raiders’ magical season came to an end this weekend. Despite an unbelievable defensive performance, the Raiders couldn’t seem to break past the strong Ferris State Bulldogs in the NCAA Regional Semifinal and fell 1-0.

After receiving their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2005, the Raiders traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio for their first round matchup against the Bulldogs. The Raiders had faced the team three times already this season, and held a 2-1 advantage in the season series. They looked to pick up another win to play in the Regional Final the next night.

The Raiders picked up their first penalty of the game on a hitting from behind by sophomore Mike Borkowski, and the Bulldogs took advantage. Bulldogs first-year forward Gerald Mayhew tipped in a shot from the point to give Ferris State an early 1-0 lead. That was all the Bulldogs needed, as they spent the rest of the game blocking shots in front of standout junior goalie CJ Motte. Motte’s 35 saves kept the Raiders off the board all game long and kept the Raiders firing shots from all angles.

The Raiders saw great opportunities throughout the entire game, but could not seem to convert any of them. Crowding the net and making it nearly impossible for Motte to see, the Raiders fired shots at net throughout the two Bulldog penalties in the first period, but nothing would budge.

Early on in the second period, Raiders sophomore forward Kyle Baun picked up a tripping penalty, and sophomore forward Tylor Spink and a Bulldogs forward picked up coincidental unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The Raiders fought off the 4-on-3 and couldn’t capitalize on the other two power plays they had in the period. What turned out to be a physical second period culminated in five minor penalties with one second left in the period. A scrum ensued between the two sides after a hit from behind, resulting in penalties on both sides.

The third period saw the Raiders with a man advantage, but they couldn’t convert once again as Motte continued his strong play in net. First-year Charlie Finn kept the Raiders in the game with another big game. Finn’s 26 saves were key in keeping the game close and the Raiders in the contest.

As the final minutes ticked down, however, the Raiders were unable to put the puck in the net. Pulling Finn in one last ditch effort, the Raiders got the extra attacker but still could not score, dropping the contest 1-0.

The Raiders finished the season with a stellar record of 20-14-5. On playing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in recent history, junior captain Spiro Goulakos highlighted how big this was for the program.

“It means a lot to not only our team, but to our program,” Goulakos said. “Our coaches have worked extremely hard building a culture and getting a bid to the tournament is a great reward for us all.”

 Graduating just two seniors in forward Mike McCann and goalie Eric Mihalik, the Raiders return a majority of their players and hope to advance even farther.