As we expected in the two-week-long run-up to this Frozen Four, Thursday's national semifinal between the Union College Dutchmen and the Ferris State Bulldogs was a mostly defensive affair. Both teams battled for chances all game long, and ultimately, it was an uncharacteristic rebound off the leg of Union goaltender Troy Grosenick that gave Ferris State a 2-1 lead en route to a 3-1 victory.
Kyle Bonis backhanded the juicy bounce into the back of the net before Grosenick could get across the crease to make the stop. Bonis' second goal of the game and 20th of the season turned out to be the game-winner, and with 54.8 seconds remaining, Aaron Schmit put home an empty-netter to seal the deal.
Grosenick, solid all game, was perhaps the best player for the Dutchmen. He saved Union's bacon at least once in the third on a Schmit breakaway, but midway through that period, the Bulldogs used a few strong shifts in a row to pin the Dutchmen in their own zone while generating momentum that led to the winning goal.
Union College opened the scoring in the second period when a Greg Coburn point shot was deflected by forward Daniel Carr and past Bulldogs goalie Taylor Nelson. About nine minutes later, Ferris State picked up a power play after Cole Ikkala was called for charging. On the ensusing power play, the Bulldogs evened the score on Bonis' first goal of the game.
Through two periods, Union had controlled the play for much of the game. They seemed the stronger team, creating more chances and winning in the neutral zone more often than not. Things evened out a bit in the third period and ultimately turned Ferris State's way late in the period as Union couldn't get the puck up the ice, floundering under pressure from the Bulldogs. Following the tie-breaking goal, the Dutchmen seemed poised to tie the game yet again, hitting the post at least once in a several-minute-long flurry fueled by several key face off wins.
But in holding off the final Union charge, the Ferris State Bulldogs punched their ticket to the national title game on Saturday night. They'll face either Minnesota or Boston College.
For complete coverage of the entire NCAA men's ice hockey tournament, check out our 2012 Frozen Four StoryStream.