Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team, which finished the 2011-12 campaign as the NCAA Division I National Runner-Up and regular-season champions in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), has started the task of replacing eight departing seniors with the announcement of this year's recruiting class.
The Bulldogs, under two-time National Coach of the Year Bob Daniels, have assembled a seven-member incoming recruiting class. All seven will join the Bulldogs for the 2012-13 campaign.
The class includes three defensmen in Brandon Anselmini, Zach Dorer and Connor Schmidt along with three forwards including Kenny Babinski, Dakota Klecha and Matt Robertson. The final addition is goalkeeper Charles Williams.
An additional member to the class is still expected.
Babinski, Klecha, Schmidt and Williams all spent the 2011-12 season playing junior hockey in the United States Hockey League (USHL) while Dorer competed in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Meanwhile, both Anselmini and Robertson had successful seasons in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL).
"This recruiting class addresses our needs, especially on the blueline," said FSU Associate Head Coach Drew Famulak, who serves as the program's recruiting coordinator. "These kids have not only the ability to be good defenders, but in time will also have the potential to create offense from the back end.
"As a group, they'll continue to help us maintain our overall skill level and team speed, which will carry on our philosophy of playing at a high-tempo," he added.
Williams will also join the Bulldogs from the USHL where he's led the Lincoln Stars to the Western Conference finals.
"Charles is a tremendous addition to our class and he'll step in and compete for playing time right away with C.J. Motte as we move forward to replace a second consecutive All-America goaltender in Taylor Nelson," Famulak said.
Below are biographical sketches on all seven student-athletes:
Kenny Babinski - 5-10, 180, F - Midland, Mich.
Babinski pent the last two seasons with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. The Midland (Mich.) native talied 16 points on eight goals and eight assists in an injury-shortened 34 games during the 2010-11 season. The 2010 USHL Entry Draft selection came back to record 24 points on 11 goals and 13 assists in 53 games played this past campaign. He had both two game-winning goals and two power play markers while totaling 49 penalty minutes for the Lancers, who reached the USHL Western Conference quarterfinals. Babinski played for Midland High School prior to joining the Lancers and led the Chemics with 40 goals and 37 assists, including a five-goal game in the state semifinals as MHS earned state runner-up honors in 2009-10.
Dakota Klecha - 5-10, 155, F - Taylor, Mich.
A physical forward, the 5-10 Klecha registered 17 goals and nine assists for 26 total points in 57 games for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL during the 2011-12 campaign. He had 101 penalty minutes. In 2010-11, the Taylor native appeared in 56 games for the NAHL's Wichita Falls Wildcats where he totaled 50 points on 28 goals and 22 assists with 248 penalty minutes. Klecha was the 21st overall pick in the USHL Entry Draft in 2011. He helped Belle Tire to the Michigan state hockey title under coach Chris Coury three years ago.
Connor Schmidt - 5-10, 180, D - Flat Rock, Mich.
The 5-10 defenseman played in 46 contests for the USHL's Des Moines Buccaneers this past season and had a goal with 11 assists for 12 points with the Western Conference squad. He netted 112 penalty minutes. He enjoyed a breakout rookie campaign in the NAHL with the Traverse City North Stars under head coach Anthony Palumbo in 2010-11 with 22 points in 55 games on seven lamplighters and 15 assists. He posted 16 goals and 23 helpers in 78 games with the storied Little Casears Midget Major team in 2009-10. He also played prep soccer at Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central under former Bulldog player Jim Baker.
Zach Dorer - 6-1, 175, D - Holt, Mich.
Dorer spent the last two seasons roaming the ice for the Traverse City North Stars in the NAHL. Over the two campaigns, he totaled 24 points on seven goals and 17 assists in 94 career contests. Previously, he competed on the midget major level for the Lansing Capitals in 2009-10 before joining the NAHL's Wichita Falls Wildcats for a short stint. He tallied 15 goals and 25 assists in 55 games for Lansing in 2009-10 before a standout rookie campaign with the North Stars in 2010-11 under Palumbo. He helped Traverse City to a playoff berth this past season.
Brandon Anselmini - 5-9, 200, D - Guelph, Ontario
The 5-9 defenseman appeared in 59 games with the Central Canada Hockey League's (CCHL) Brockville Braves in 2011-12 and registered 42 points on 18 goals and 24 assists. His total included seven power-play goals and two game-winners in addition to 106 penalty minutes. Anselmini previously spent two seasons with the Guelph Hurricanes in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) where he notched 41 points on 11 goals and 30 helpers in 89 contests. He played midget-level hockey with the Guelph Junior Storm Minor Midget AAA team in 2008-09 and recorded 27 points on 21 assists and six goals in 50 games.
Matt Robertson - 6-0, 161, F - Rohnert Park, Calif.
Robertson attained first team All-Star honors in the CCHL this past season with the Smiths Falls Bears. He scored 101 points in 2011-12 on 47 goals and 54 assists while notching 12 power-play makers and six game-winning goals. Over his two seasons with Smiths Falls, he tallied 178 points in 130 games on 74 goals and 104 assists. He was a two-time CCHL Player of the Month this campaign and the top goal scorer in the league in addition to claiming the CCHL's Sportsmanship Trophy. Robertson formerly played with the Stanstead College Spartans, a private boarding school.
Charles Williams - 6-0, 175, GK - Canton, Mich.
The Canton (Mich.) native has led the Lincoln Stars to the USHL's Western Conference finals. Willimas put together a stellar regular-season for the Stars in 2011-12 as he posted a 20-4-3 overall record with a 2.61 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. His four losses were the fewest among USHL goaltenders that appeared in at least 25 games while his four shutouts tied for third in the league. He originally broke into the USHL during the 2009-10 campaign with the Des Moines Buccaneers and won eight games during his tenure with the team. He then recorded a 27-10-6 mark with the NAHL's Owatonna Express in 2010-11 while registering a .921 save percentage.
"We're excited about the addition of all seven of these student-athletes and believe they have bright futures ahead of them at the collegiate level," said Famulak.
Ferris State University's most impressive season on the ice in school history came to a close in the national championship game at the 2012 Frozen Four in Tampa (Fla.) with a 26-12-5 overall record. It included a first-ever trip to the Frozen Four and a national runner-up finish under 2011-12 National Coach of the Year Bob Daniels.
FSU's 26 wins in the 2011-12 campaign are the second-most in school history and the season highlights also included the school's second-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship and a Midwest Regional crown.
The title game marked the first time in school history any Bulldog team had ever competed in a national championship game. FSU won or tied 19 of its final 23 games of the season and had an impressive nation-leading 15-game unbeaten streak earlier this season along with a number one national ranking in both polls for two weeks in February.
Ferris State's runner-up finish and final second-place listing in the national polls are both tops all-time in FSU annals.