Bulldog Hockey - NCAA Tourney Game Notes

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The Midwest Regional: The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team has received the program's second-ever NCAA Tournament bid and its first since the 2002-03 season. Ferris State is the number-two seeded team in the Midwest Regional and will take on number-three seeded Denver (25-13-4) of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) on Friday, March 23, at 5:30 p.m. (ET) in the Resch Center at Green Bay, Wis. The top-seeded Michigan Wolverines will skate against the number-four seeded Cornell Big Red (18-8-4) in the second contest at 9 p.m. (ET).  The regional final is Saturday (March 24) at 9 p.m. (ET) inside the Resch Center.

Season Record: The 2011-12 Ferris State University Bulldogs have posted a program third-best 23-11-5 record to date this year. The 2002-03 team holds the top spot with a 31-10-1 record at the end of the season. The 1979-80 squad under Rick Duffett compiled a 26-11-1 overall record, which marked the Bulldogs first campaign as a member of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA).

Regular-Season Champs: Ferris State claimed the CCHA Regular-Season Championship title this season with a first-place 16-7-5 league record. The Bulldogs accumulated 54 league points and outdistanced Michigan and Western Michigan by four points.  Both UM and WMU posted 50 league points in finishing second to the Bulldogs.  Ferris State was able to raise the CCHA Regular Season Trophy for the first time since 2002-03 and only the second time in program history.

Ferris State vs. Denver: The two teams are meeting for only the second time. Their only previous meeting (Dec. 31, 2005) resulted in a 3-2 victory for the Bulldogs. The win earned the Bulldogs the Wells Fargo Denver Cup title and was played in Denver, Colo.

Ferris State vs. Cornell: The Bulldogs hold a 2-1-0 series advantage over the Cornell Big Red. It includes a home win along with a split on the road. The Bulldogs scored 14 goals in those three games. The away series was played on Jan. 24-25, 1997.  Ferris State hosted Cornell on Jan. 24, 1998.

Ferris State vs. Michigan: The Bulldogs and Wolverines have a long conference history in which UM holds a 65-28-4 all-time series edge. FSU is 10-41-0 on the road, 18-24-3 at home and 0-2-1 at neutral sites versus Michigan. Earlier this (Oct. 27-28) season, Ferris State suffered two losses on the road (5-2, 4-0) against the top-seeded team.

Broadcast Information: Ferris State games this weekend will be broadcast on Sunny 97.3 FM and the Bulldog Sports Network with Dom Hennig and Danny Kowalski calling the action. A live video stream of Friday's game can be watched at ESPN3.com with tape-delay TV coverage later that night on ESPNU at 11:30 p.m. (ET).

Last Time In NCAA Tourney: FSU will be making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2002-03 campaign when the Bulldogs defeated North Dakota 5-3 in its regional opener before bowing out in the regional championship game with a  7-4 loss to Minnesota in the West Regional at St. Paul, Minn.

Green Bay Connection: This weekend, the Bulldogs will be playing at the Resch Center, which is home of the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Their first-year head coach, Derek Lalonde, has been on the coaching staff at both Denver and Ferris State. His tenure at FSU (2002-06) as an assistant coach was highlighted with the 2002-03 CCHA Championship. While with Denver (2006-11), he helped the Pioneers to two WCHA Championships and four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

FSU sophomore defender Scott Czarnowczan spent the 2009-10 season with the Gamblers where they won both the Anderson Cup as league regular-season champions and the USHL Playoff champion's Clark Cup.

Senior forward Aaron Schmit is from Grafton, Wis., which is just under 100 miles from Green Bay.

The Defense: Ferris State is currently ranked tied for ninth in NCAA Division I Team Defense, allowing only 2.23 goals per game. Senior defenseman Chad Billins (Marysville) leads the defense and is third in scoring among the team with 29 points coming from seven goals and 22 assists. Sophomore Scott Czarnowczan has two goals and 18 assists from the blueline. Before the final regular season weekend series against Western Michigan, the defensive pair had been on a hot streak with Billins tallying at least a point in each of the previous 12 games, including a 1-1 OT tie with the Broncos. Czarnowczan had tallied one point in each of his seven previous games.

Goaltending: Senior goaltender Taylor Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) has compiled a 18-6-3 record, including three shutouts, and is ranked 14th among NCAA Division I Goaltending Leaders. He has 60 goals against and has a 2.18 goals against average and holds a .920 save percentage. Freshman goaltender CJ Motte (St. Claire) has compiled a 5-5-2 record. He has allowed only 24 goals, with a 1.98 goals against average, in 12 games played. Motte has tallied two shutouts.

Scholar-Athlete Of The Year: The combination of athletic and academic success achieved by Ferris State University men's ice hockey student-athlete Chad Billins for the 2011-12 season has earned the Bulldog senior the honor of being designated as the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Billins had been one of 11 student-athletes representing their respective CCHA teams to earn team recognition before claiming the league's top overall honor.

All-Conference First and Second Team: Defenseman Chad Billins (Marysville) and goalie Taylor Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) were among six individuals to receive All-CCHA First Team accolades as announced last week. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs' leading scorer, Jordie Johnston (Rosetown, Saskatchewan), was named to the All-CCHA Second Team.

Conference Finalists: Senior co-captain Chad Billins, who is also a 2011-12 All-CCHA First-Team selection, was up for both RBC Player of The Year and was a finalist for Best Offensive Defenseman. Billins tied for first among league defensemen with 18 assists and led the Bulldogs in conference scoring with 25 points overall. Sophomore defender Scott Czarnowczan was a finalist for the Best Defensive Defenseman Award. Czarnowczan led the squad with a plus-16 rating and 65 blocked shots. He was second among team defensemen in scoring with two goals and 15 assists.

Coach of the Year: In his 20th year behind the bench, head coach Bob Daniels was named this year's CCHA Coach of the Year. Daniels was previously honored as CCHA Coach of the Year after the 2002-03 season. This season, Daniels led the team to a 23-11-5 overall mark and a 16-7-5 record in the league as they earned the CCHA Regular Season Title for the first time since 2002-03 and second in program history.

Preseason Polls: Ferris State was picked to finish ninth in the 2011-12 CCHA Coaches Preseason Poll with 50 points. The Bulldogs received 425 points in the media poll to place tied for seventh among the 11 conference teams. Points were awarded on a 12-11-10-9, etc., basis. League coaches ranked the CCHA teams, excluding their own school, in the order they predicted the regular season will end.

Co-Captains: Senior defensemen Chad Billins (Marysville) and Tommy Hill (Portage) are serving as the Bulldogs' team co-captains in the 2011-12 campaign. They are the 40th and 41st individuals in the program's history to sport the captain's 'C' on their jersey.

Coaching Ties: Ferris State has served as a stepping stone for several coaches currently in the collegiate ranks. Seth Appert of Rensselaer is a current head coach with ties to FSU along with former Western Michigan head coach and current Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Jeff Blashill.  Current assistant coaches with connections to FSU are Trevor Large of Army, Tim Christian of Lake Superior State and Jaime Russell of Providence among others.

On The Internet: Ferris State University Athletics' official web site can be found at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com. The site features information on all of FSU's varsity athletics programs including rosters, statistics, yearbooks, video and more.

National Rankings: The Bulldogs are currently ranked as the number nine team in the country according to USCHO.com.  Denver enters the regional listed 10th. On Feb. 14, all three major Division I Hockey polls announced Ferris State as their number one team in the country. In the USCHO.com poll, it marked only the 19th different program to hold the top spot since it's 1997-98 inception. It was also the highest ranking in program history.

Lowe's Senior CLASS Award: Senior defenseman Chad Billins (Marysville) of the Ferris State University men's ice hockey team has been chosen as a finalist for the 2011-12 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in a recent announcement. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – classroom, character, community, and competition. The 10 finalists were narrowed down from a candidate pool of 20 and those 10 individuals will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select the finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of classroom, character, community and competition.

Famulak Recieves Praise: Ferris State Associate Head Coach Drew Famulak has been honored as the 2012 Terry Flanagan Award recipient as chosen by the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA).  The honor goes to one assistant coach across the country each year and recognizes them for their entire body of work.  He will receive the award at the annual convention in April in Naples, Fla.
 
CCHA Tournament Quarterfinals: Two weekends ago (March 9-11), the Bulldogs were stunned as by Bowling Green State in the second round of the CCHA Tournament and did not advance to the CCHA Semifinals.  The bottom-seeded Falcons battled to a 3-2 overtime win in game one of the best-of-three series at FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena. Saturday's game saw the Bulldogs get their offensive stroke back as they forced game three with a 7-4 onslaught of the Falcons. In game three, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 advantage in the first period. The Falcons then scored a goal in the second periodto make the score 3-1 after two. Freshman Dan DeSalvo added two goals in the third period to force overtime. DeSalvo scored his third goal of the game 2:31 into overtime advacing the Bowling Green State Falcons to the CCHA Semifinals at Joe Louis Arena. This marked the first time in league history that the lowest-seeded team made it to the semifinal game.
  
Goals, Goals, Goals: The four-man junior class leads the team as they have contributed 43 of the team's 116 goals, which is 37% to date. The goal effort of the juniors is led by Kyle Bonis with 18 goals. The eight-man senior class has chipped in 40 goals, or 34.4% of lamp-lighters.  The verterans do own the most scoring as they have combined for 66 assists, or 34.4% of total scoring. The sophomores have scored 23 goals, and the rookie class has 10 goals among the six-man class. The freshman do have the 37-36 edge on helpers, led by Simon Denis' 12 assist output. 

Regular Season In Review:

Hot Start
The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team knew something was special as they started the 2011-12 season with a bang and opened with wins in their first six contests. The record marked the school's best start since its inaugural season in the CCHA during the 1979-80 campaign when the Bulldogs opened with eight-straight victories.
 
The Bulldogs continued to roll along as they compiled a 9-2-1 record through the first six weeks of play. In that span, the Bulldogs shutout their opponent four times. As they continued to perform well on the ice, they were rewarded in the polls. On Nov. 14, the Bulldogs were ranked sixth in the nation, marking their highest ranking since 2002-03.

Slump Of Sorts
The team faced a bumpy road in December during a slump in which they recorded a 1-5 mark to close the New Year. Ferris State's special teams were of concern as they scored only two power-play goals with 29 opportunities in that span. Their penalty-kill was also at a season-low with a .706 success rate. The team was searching for answers as they began 2012 and found them in a big way. 

Second Half Heroics
The Bulldogs tore through the New Year as they faced five ranked opponents and swept four opposing teams on the weekend. During their unbeaten streak, the Bulldogs compiled an 11-0-4 record. After a 4-1 victory over Bowling Green State on Feb. 18, FSU earned recognition as the first college team in the country to reach 22 wins.

After a huge home-and-home sweep of Notre Dame (Feb. 10-11), the Bulldogs were recognized as the top team in the country by both the U.S College Hockey Online (USCHO) and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Division I hockey polls. The number-one ranking marked the first-ever for the Ferris State hockey program. In the USCHO.com poll, Ferris State was only the 19th school to claim the top spot since their poll began in 1997-98.

The Bulldogs went into the last regular-season series (Feb. 24-25) against Western Michigan needing only one point to clinch sole possession of the CCHA Regular Season title. They did just that as they forced Friday night's game to a 1-1 overtime tie where they eventually lost in the shootout. The Bulldogs were able to bring the trophy back to Big Rapids the next night and hoist it in front of a sold-out home crowd.

Team Effort
The team's success cannot be tabbed on one superstar as it has been a complete team effort. Seventeen different skaters have tallied a goal this season, including 11 players who have earned goals on either the power play or penalty kill. In fact, only senior forward Jordie Johnston along with junior forward Kyle Bonis and Travis Ouellette have scored double-digit goals, achieving 18, 18 and 10 goals, respectively.

The four-man junior class has led the scoring output by tallying 43 goals thus far this season. The seniors have 40 goals and the sophomore class also stands strong with 23 lamp-lighters. An outstanding rookie class has chipped in 10 goals for a 116-goal total on the year.

Behind The Blue Line
Defense has always been a big part of the Bulldog mentality. This season, the Bulldogs have sacrificed their bodies and blocked 440 shots. Sophomore defender Scott Czarnowczan has recorded 66 blocks while senior defender Brett Wysopal has blocked a career-high 71 opposing team shots. From the blue line, senior defender Chad Billins is third on the team in scoring as he has tallied seven goals and 22 assists for a 29-point total. 

Senior goalie Taylor Nelson has been dominant between the pipes and picked up 18 of the Bulldogs' 23 victories this season. His win count is tied for third-best in a single campaign while his 2.18 goals against average is also among the program's seasonal leaders and his .920 save percentage is first on the Bulldog single-season list. His outstanding 72.2 winning percentage in net this season is among FSU's best all-time for a campaign.

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