March 12, 2014

PREVIEW: Top-Seed Ferris State Opens WCHA Playoffs At Home Against Bemidji State

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UP NEXT IN BULLDOG HOCKEY:

vs. Bemidji State Beavers
WCHA First-Round Playoff Series
Friday-Sunday, March 14-16
Ewigleben Ice Arena - Big Rapids, Mich.
 
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Complete Game Notes (PDF)


The Opening Faceoff:
The nationally sixth-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team opens the 2014 Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Playoffs at home this weekend. The Bulldogs, who captured the MacNaughton Cup as the WCHA's Regular-Season Champions, will be the tournament's top seed and host a best-of-three first round series Friday thru Sunday, March 14-15 and 16 (if necessary), at the Ewigleben Ice Arena against eighth-seeded Bemidji State.

The first two games of the first round series are scheduled for 7:07 p.m. (ET) with the deciding third game, if necessary, beginning on Sunday at 5:07 p.m. (ET). The series will represent FSU's first-ever WCHA home playoff action.

Media Coverage: Both games will be carried live by the Bulldog Sports Network and Sunny 97.3 FM with Dominic Hennig and Dan Kowalski calling the play-by-play action. Pregame coverage begins a half-hour prior to puck drop. The online broadcast is accessible at FerrisStateBulldogs.com. All links, including live video along with live internet statistics, will be available on the online home of Bulldog Athletics.

TV/Broadcast Coverage: A live HD video and audio pay-per-view webcast will be made available for this weekend's playoff action thru a conference agreement with WCHATV & America One.  Home games are produced by Ferris Television. Links will be available at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.

The Records: Ferris State owns a 25-9-3 overall mark to date this year and placed first in the WCHA with 42 total points after sweeping Lake Superior State in identical 2-1 decisions last weekend (March 7-8) at home. The Bulldogs , who are the number one seed in the WCHA Playoffs, edged out Minnesota State by a single point to claim their second conference championship in the last three years.

Bemidji State tied for eighth place overall in the WCHA with a 10-9-7 overall record to go with a 10-14-4 league mark. The Beavers earned the tiebreaker over LSSU to claim the final playoff spot and is seeded eighth in the field. BSU dropped three of its last four regular-season tilts, which included 5-3 and 5-2 road setbacks at Bowling Green last weekend (March 7-8).

The Coaches: Ferris State - Bob Daniels (Michigan State, 1982), 22nd season, 375-387-87 (.493) – (8-5-0 vs. Bemidji State -- 0-1-0 Neutral, 4-2-0 Away and 4-2-0 Home). Daniels has the distinction of being the all-time winningest coach in Ferris State history. He was honored as the Spencer Penrose Award winner as the American Collegiate Hockey Association's (ACHA) Division I National Hockey Coach of the Year in both 2003 and 2012 in addition to claiming CCHA Coach of the Year honors both times. He was among three finalists for both the 2007-08 and 2009-10 CCHA Coach of the Year Awards. Daniels led the Bulldogs to their first-ever appearance at the Frozen Four and second-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship title two years ago.

Bemidji State - Tom Serratore, (Bemidji State, 1987), 12th season, 195-164-41 (.494) - (5-6-0 vs. Ferris State).  Serratore, a five-time (2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010) College Hockey America (CHA) Coach of the Year, directed BSU to its first appearance in the NCAA Frozen Four in 2009.  Serratore has been named a finalist five times for the Spencer Penrose Award as the ACHA's Division I National Hockey Coach of the Year and was runner up for the national award in 2009.  He was a two-year letterwinner at forward for BSU from 1985-87 and a member of the Beavers' 1986 NCAA Division III national championship team.

Series History: Ferris State is 8-5 all-time versus Bemidji State heading into the weekend action and posted a 3-1 mark versus the Beavers this year in regular-season play. FSU topped BSU twice earlier this season in Big Rapids by scores of 5-4 in overtime and 5-3 on Nov. 8-9, respectively. The Bulldogs then split two games in Bemidji with a 4-1 triumph the first night (Feb. 14) before the Beavers came back for a 2-1 win (Feb. 15). Previously, FSU fell to the Beavers 3-2 in the most recent matchup prior to this year in 2010 (12/31) at the Mariucci Classic.  Overall, FSU is 4-2 at home, 4-2 on the road and 0-1 at neutral sites against BSU. The Bulldogs have tallied 59 goals in the previous 13 games against Bemidji State while allowing only 34 to date.  The first meeting between the two schools was in 1999 (11/12) and resulted in an 8-0 Bulldog victory.

WCHA Playoffs: The Bulldogs are one of four teams who will host first-round best-of-three playoff action this weekend. The other first-round matchups include #2 seed Minnesota State hosting #7 Northern Michigan, #3 Alaska playing host to #6 Alaska Anchorage along with #5 Michigan Tech visiting #4 Bowling Green. The winner of each opening-round series will advance to Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena for the WCHA Final Five Championship on March 21-22 with the league's playoff champion earning the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Home Ticket Information: Single-game tickets for this weekend's home playoff series are currently on sale and can be bought online at StarTickets.com, by calling 1-800-585-3737 or purchased in person at the FSU Athletics Ticket Office. The ticket office will be open inside the Ewigleben Sports Complex Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) and open on Saturday at noon. Fans can avoid potential lines by purchasing in advance. For more ticket information, fans can visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com or call (231) 591-2888.

Memorable Season In WCHA Debut: By winning the MacNaughton Cup for its second league title in the last three years, the Bulldogs became one of only three programs to ever win both the WCHA and former Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Regular-Season crowns along with Michigan and Northern Michigan. The Bulldogs led the league race wire-to-wire this season. Ferris State has compiled a nation-leading 25 wins to date this season (25-9-3) and owns one of the country's top marks on home ice with a 14-1-1 mark inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena.

Strong Home Campaign: The Bulldogs were unbeaten at home (13-0-1) in conference action and their impressive play helped FSU post its sixth-straight season with increased home attendance while the school's average of 2,141 fans per game during the 2013-14 regular-season was its best in 32 years. FSU also led the WCHA by recording an 86% capacity figure over the course of its 16 home games this season. In the last two-plus years, Ferris State has had 16 home sellouts and the "Dawg Pound" student section has been sold out for 50 consecutive games.

Moving Up The School List: Ferris State's 25 wins overall rank as the fourth-best seasonal total in school history and FSU's 20 league wins this year were second in the Bulldogs' all-time annals. for a conference total. The Bulldogs need a single win to tie for second-place all-time. FSU currently sits sixth in the PairWise and RPI Rankings and is eyeing its third all-time NCAA Tournament berth, including second in the last three years after a historic run to the national championship game and the NCAA Frozen Four two seasons ago.

Among Best In Nation: Currently, FSU's 25 wins are tied for the most in the country and the Bulldogs also have the nation's fourth-best winning percentage (.716). Ferris State held the nation's longest unbeaten streak earlier this year at 16 games (13-0-3) prior to its setback to Colgate in the championship game of the Mariucci Classic (Jan. 4). Ferris State finished first in the WCHA standings with a 20-6-2 league record and hadn't dropped a league game in its debut season in the conference prior to its mid-January series at Minnesota State. FSU's current 14-1-1 home mark ranks as one of the top showings on home ice in the nation this season. Ferris State is also sixth this week in the national PairWise and RPI rankings, which will help determine the NCAA Tournament field at the end of the season.

National Rankings: Ferris State ranks sixth nationally this week in both the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll along with the United States College Hockey Online (USCHO) National Poll. The Bulldogs have been ranked as high as second in the nation three times this season, including prior to the Minnesota State series. Ferris State was ranked for 37 consecutive weeks dating between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons at one stretch and was ranked first in the nation during the memorable 2011-12 season. The number two national ranking this year represented the Bulldogs' highest placing in the poll since finishing second overall in the final 2011-12 USCHO.com Division I poll announced after FSU's historic appearance in the national championship game at the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four. Ferris State has currently been ranked among the nation's top 20 teams in the USCHO poll for 18 consecutive weeks and found among the country's top 10 teams in each of the last 15 polls.

The Senior Class: FSU honored its five seniors during "Senior Weekend" last week as the Bulldogs hosted Lake Superior State in the final weekend of regular-season play at the Ewigleben Ice Arena. The Bulldogs' five seniors were recognized on Saturday before the weekend finale with a FREE Senior Autograph session and Skate With The Dawgs after the game in addition to a celebratory team photo after winning the WCHA crown. This year's senior class includes captain Scott Czarnowczan along with forwards Garrett Thompson, Andy Huff, Cory Kane and Justin DeMartino.

WCHA Player Of Week: Ferris State senior defenseman Scott Czarnowczan claimed this week's WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honor. The senior captain led the Bulldogs to the WCHA regular reason championship as he scored a team-leading three points on a goal and two assists in back-to-back 2-1 home wins over Lake Superior State at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids. He led the charge in last Saturday's (March 8) title-clinching victory by playing a part in both Bulldog goals, which both came in the initial two minutes of the contest. Czarnowczan posted the lone assist on fellow senior Garrett Thompson's first goal of the game in a 4-on-3 situation only a minute in and then notched the eventual game-winner less than a minute later while skating 4-on-4. The two-time captain also picked up the first assist on FSU's first goal of the weekend late in the opening period on Friday night. For the weekend, Czarnowczan notched three shots and also had four blocks for the Bulldogs as they remained unbeaten in league action at home. He also played a key defensive role on FSU's penalty-kill unit that held the Lakers scoreless in six tries on the weekend and was the first star of Saturday's game.

With this week's WCHA recognition, Czarnowczan becomes the sixth different FSU player to earn recognition in the league this campaign. FSU senior forward Cory Kane claimed offensive player of the week honors two weeks ago and joined sophomore forward Matt Robertson as an offensive recipient this year while freshman forward Kyle Schempp previously earned Rookie of the Week. Junior defenseman Jason Binkley was a Defensive Player of the Week winner earlier this year while CJ Motte claimed the WCHA's defensive nod six times this campaign.

Vote For Hobey Baker Award: Voting is currently underway to help determine the 2014 Hobey Baker Award winner and Bulldog fans can cast their vote for FSU goaltender CJ Motte and senior forward Garrett Thompson. The annual award is given to college hockey's top player and fan balloting takes place online at www.hobeybakeraward.com. The first phase of fan balloting runs through March 9. Phase two of fan balloting begins on March 20 from the list of Top 10 Hobey Baker finalists. The 2014 Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced from a field of three finalists on April 11 during the NCAA Frozen Four Championships in Philadelphia.

Bulldog Olympian: The Ferris State University men's ice hockey program has its first-ever Olympic Gold Medal Champion as Bulldog alum Chris Kunitz of the National Hockey League's (NHL) Pittsburgh Penguins helped lead Canada to victory in the gold medal game on Sunday (Feb. 23) in Sochi, Russia. Kunitz not only won gold, but also sealed the victory with a goal of his own as Canada claimed the gold medal for the second-straight Winter Olympic Games with a 3-0 victory over Sweden, which came on the heels of an exciting 1-0 triumph over the United States in the semifinals on Friday.. A member of the Pittsburgh Penguins and two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Kunitz was an NHL First-Team All-Star last season. He played for FSU from 1999-03 and led the Bulldogs to a CCHA Championship as a senior in 2002-03.

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