Every weekday from May 23-June 3, we will be looking back at the top-10 moments from the 2015-16 WCHA season. Up next on our countdown is
Moment #2: Bulldogs Advance to Elite Eight
"Just happy to be here" a phrase often attributed to an underdog team making an unexpected appearance in a big-game setting, but words that were not part of the Ferris State vocabulary this past March. A week after going from fourth seed to WCHA Final Five champion (see Moment #3 on our countdown), head coach Bob Daniels and the Bulldogs advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. As the WCHA's lone representative, West Regional fourth-seed Ferris State recorded a thrilling, 5-4 overtime victory over St. Cloud State in the regional semifinal knocking off the West's top seed and the nation's overall second-ranked team in the process.
Playing at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minn., the WCHA tournament champion Bulldogs proved their worth on the national stage, securing the win just 18 seconds into overtime when junior forward Jared VanWormer buried a rebound off a Gerald Mayhew shot. The marker, VanWormer's second of the game, lifted Ferris State back into the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in program history.
Ferris State got on the board first when sophomore forward Mitch Maloney banged home a rebound at the 2:56 mark of the first period. Although St. Cloud State tied the score just 17 seconds later, the Bulldogs took a 2-1 lead into intermission after VanWormer scored on a breakaway following a gorgeous pass from freshman Trevor Recktenwald.
Senior forward Kenny Babinski gave FSU its first two-goal lead of the game at 1:04 of the second period, while Mayhew (off an assist from VanWormer) put the Bulldogs out front 4-2 at the 12:01 mark of the stanza.
SCSU, the NCHC tournament champs, rallied with a two-goal third period to force overtime, where VanWormer's heroics propelled Ferris State to the victory.
FSU freshman goaltender Darren Smith made 29 saves in his first NCAA Tournament game.
The Bulldogs' Frozen Four quest fell just short in the West Regional Final, as Denver snapped a 3-3 tie with three goals over the final 4:32 of regulation.
With a Broadmoor Trophy and an NCAA Tournament victory in tow, the Bulldogs concluded their magical March ride. Along the way, Ferris State's exceptional student-athletes, coaches and administrators proved to be terrific representatives of their university and the WCHA both on and off the ice.
Top-10 Moments from the 2015-16 WCHA Season
10: Century Club
9: WCHA Alumni Find Professional Success
8: 20 Minutes for the Ages
7: Desert Hockey Classic Champions
6: Defiel Stands Tall
5: WCHA is Live on ASN
4: MacNaughton Cup Comes Home, and Stays Put
3: From Fourth Seed to Broadmoor Trophy Champion