Swing Batter Batter
Mayhew's 'Bunt' Goal Sends Ferris State On
by Avash Kalra/Senior Writer
CINCINNATI Meeting for the fourth time in the 2013-14 season, the only difference in Friday’s physical and defensively-frugal NCAA opening round game between Ferris State and Colgate was a shot that originated not from ice level, but from the air.
Indeed, freshman Gerald Mayhew’s baseball-style bunt in the first period was the signature moment in Ferris State’s 1-0 triumph over Colgate – appropriately, in an arena adjacent to ‘Pete Rose Way,’ and in a city known for its festivities on Major League Baseball’s Opening Day, a celebration dating back to 1889 that is now something of a holiday, parade and all, in southwest Ohio.
Thanks to Mayhew’s eye-hand coordination, Ferris State will play Saturday night for its second NCAA Frozen Four berth in its last three seasons – just two days before the Cincinnati Reds open their baseball season next door to U.S. Bank Arena against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“[My linemates] did all the work, to be honest,” said Mayhew, who played baseball in high school. “I honestly didn’t know where the puck was at first, and then I saw it. My natural reaction was to bat it out, and luckily, it wasn’t a high-stick.”
Mayhew’s heroics began after Colgate sophomore Mike Borowski was sent to the penalty box for a cross-checking infraction at 9:28 of the first period. Ferris State’s top power play unit – featuring its entire second line of Mayhew and seniors Andy Huff and Cory Kane – capitalized on quick puck movement below the faceoff dot.
A shot from Huff bounced off Raiders goaltender Charlie Finn’s right pad and sat in the air above the crease, conveniently at Mayhew’s waist level, where the freshman batted the puck to beat Finn.
“He’s real played well as of late,” said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels. “When you watched him earlier in the season, you could tell he has really good stick skills. He can handle the puck, but it’s quick.
“Usually those guys are good goal scorers. As the season’s progressed, as he’s gotten some seasoning under his belt, you can see the chances coming more and more.”
The goal – which gave Colgate its first 1-0 loss since Nov. 21, 2008 – was Mayhew’s eighth of the season and the rookie’s fourth in his last three games. The Wyandotte, Mich., native also scored the game-winning goal in overtime in the Bulldogs’ WCHA tournament semifinal win a week ago against Alaska-Anchorage.
In fact, Mayhew’s recent success can be largely attributed to a decision in late February by Daniels to create the line of Huff, Kane, and Mayhew. Make no mistake, though, Mayhew’s not a typical freshman on this line with two seniors – Mayhew, born Dec. 31, 1992, is older than Kane and less than six months younger than Huff.
“Lately they’ve really carried our team,” said Daniels of the trio that accounted for five of Ferris State’s nine shots in the pivotal first period. “Their emergence has helped us in the second half. They’re our front-line penalty killers as well, so when your better players are also some of your better defensive players, I think that bodes well from your team.”
Added Mayhew, “We pretty much gelled together since game one and have been trying to help the team win as much as we can.”
The goal also continued another trend for Ferris State, which outscored opponents in the first period, 50-20, during the season. More often than not, Bulldogs junior goaltender C.J. Motte, one of 10 Hobey Baker finalists this year, was able to help those leads stand. He stood tall again Friday, making 35 saves, perhaps none bigger than a glove stop on Colgate’s Tylor Spink just 1:30 into the first period that established the tone for his afternoon.
And on Friday against Colgate, in a game featuring no player ranked in the top 80 in the nation in scoring, only one goal – Mayhew’s home run swing in the first – was enough for Motte to earn the win. Indeed, over the final 50 minutes of the game, Motte and the Ferris State defense had all their bases covered.
The Bulldogs, with another trip to the Frozen Four just a win away, now await the winner of Friday’s primetime NCAA regional semifinal between rivals Wisconsin and North Dakota.
But in the meantime, thanks to Mayhew, their 2014 NCAA tournament is in full swing.