The Ferris State University men's ice hockey program continues to make a national presence in recruiting with the signing of four highly-skilled players to attend and play for the Bulldogs, starting in the 2011-12 season. Forward Dominic Panetta (Baldwin) and defenseman Simon Denis (Burnaby, British Columbia) pronounced See-moan Den-knee along with goaltender C.J. Motte (St. Clair) and forward Justin Buzzeo (Windsor, Ontario) will all be wearing the Crimson and Gold.
The four individuals inked with Ferris State during November's early-signing period.
"We addressed a lot of needs in all three areas - goaltending, defense, and forwards," said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels, who's the program's all-time winningest coach and is presently in his 19th season directing the Bulldogs. "I'm excited about being able to fill some of our openings with quality players. Even though there's more work to be done in completing our remaining open roster spots, I believe we have an excellent foundation to build off from."
* Dominic Panetta (5-8, 173; 4/5/91) is a 2010-11 member of the Tri-City Storm (Kearney, Neb.) of the United States Hockey League (USHL). He currently has registered a point with an assist in 10 outings this season to go along with 11 shots on goal for the Storm, who are a member of the USHL's Western Conference and are coached by Drew Schoneck. Panetta competed for the Bismarck (N.D.) Bobcats of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) in the 2009-10 season and compiled a team third-most 52 points on a squad second-best tying 24 goals and 28 assists in 54 regular-season appearances. The left-handed shooting forward also tallied three game-winning lamplighters and six power-play goals while producing a plus 14 efficiency rating. Panetta also produced 17 points on six goals with 11 helpers and a plus 11 rating in 11 playoff contests, which included three game-winning scores, in helping the Bobcats capture the 2010 Robertson Cup as the NAHL's national playoff champions. He was also listed in the USHL Showcase 91 Roster for Central Scouting.
"Dominic is a highly-competitive and high-energy player with top-end speed. He's an extremely hard worker both on and off the ice," said FSU associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Drew Famulak.
* Simon Denis (5-10, 168; 8/20/91) is presently skating for the United States Hockey League's (USHL) Tri-City Storm and is a teammate of Dominic Panetta's. Denis has generated a team fourth-best tying five points (all assists) while recording 18 shots on net in 10 outings this season to date. A right-handed shot, Denis accumulated 29 points on six goals and 23 helpers in 60 contests a season ago (2009-10) while skating for the Burnaby (Coquitlam) Express of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). In his two seasons with Burnaby under head coach Jon Calvano, Denis was a two-time (2008-09 and 2009-10) recipient of the team's Most Outstanding Defenseman Award.
"Simon is a tremendous skater who has the ability to break a team out of their defensive zone on his own," Famulak said. "He has good on-ice vision and playmaking ability while possessing the skills on the offensive blueline both in even strength situations and on the power play."
* C.J. Motte (6-0, 190; 12/10/91) is midst his second season as a member of the Waterloo (Iowa) Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League (USHL). This 2010-11 campaign, Motte has posted a 4-2-1 record with a 1.96 goals-against average (15 goals allowed) and .934 saves percentage (211 saves) in eight appearances. The goaltender has played 460 minutes between the posts this season and has registered one shutout to date for the Black Hawks under the direction of head coach P.K. O'Handley. Motte, who catches left handed, concluded the 2009-10 campaign by tallying a 21-15-0 ledger to go with a 3.28 goals-against average (121 goals allowed) and an .897 saves percentage (1,050 saves) for 2,214 minutes in 42 contests. He was selected in the second round (19th overall pick) by Sioux Falls (Iowa) Stampede in the 2009 USHL Entry Draft prior to joining Waterloo. Motte spent the 2008-09 playing for the North American Hockey League's (NAHL) Traverse City (Mich.) North Stars in which he went 22-9-2 in net in 34 regular-season outings. He chalked up a 2.30 goals-against average (75 goals allowed), a .918 saves percentage (837 saves), and three shutouts in 1,958 total minutes of playing time while being named to the All-North Division Team. Motte, who ranked sixth among the NAHL's final 2008-09 goals-against average leaders, was a North Stars' teammate of current Ferris State skaters Kyle Bonis and Garrett Thompson.
"C.J. has proven himself at every level and is currently one of the top goalies in the USHL," said Famulak. "He has always claimed the starter's role at each level because of his work ethic and competitiveness. C.J. has the potential through increased conditioning levels to continue the Bulldog Hockey program's tradition of having elite netminders."
* Justin Buzzeo (5-11, 170; 1/27/90) has played the last two seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11) for the Humboldt (Saskatchewan) Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). A 2010-11 team captain, Buzzeo has currently totaled 16 goals and 24 assists for a league-leading 40 points in 22 regular-season games for head coach Dean Brockman's squad. He already has been tabbed twice (Oct. 4-10 and 18-24) this season as the SJHL's Sher-Wood Player of the Week. In his first season (2009-10) at Humboldt, Buzzeo accumulated led all SJHL rookies in scoring with 53 points on 20 goals with 33 helpers in 54 contests. Buzzeo, a left-handed shot, also netted 14 lamplighters during power-play opportunities. The forwarded concluded the 2009-10 campaign ranking 17th among SJHL's overall leaders in points, 15th in assists, and 26th in goals.
"Justin is a highly-skilled skater who has the ability to make players around him more productive," said Famulak. "He has good vision and the ability to make plays both on the offensive zone rush as a result of his speed and in high traffic areas as well."
"This group should reap the benefits of increased strength and conditioning as a result of the program instituted by our strength and conditioning coach Dave Cencer," stated Famulak.
Ferris State, which has produced a 5-5-2 overall record with a 2-4-2-(2) mark in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) this season, is presently listed among teams receiving votes in this week's (Nov. 15) U.S. College Hockey Online.com poll after previously being ranked 20th nationally by the online media outlet along with Inside College Hockey.com. the previous week (Nov. 8).