March 19, 2014

PREVIEW: Ferris State Hockey Heads To Van Andel Arena For WCHA Final Five Championship

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WCHA Final Five Championship
Semifinals - FSU vs Alaska Anchorage
Friday, March 21 - 7:07 p.m. (ET)
Van Andel Arena - Grand Rapids, Mich.

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TV: Fox Sports Detroit Plus
Produced by Fox Sports North
 
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Complete Game Notes (PDF)


The Opening Faceoff:
The nationally fourth-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team has advanced to the 2014 Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Final Five Championship set for Friday and Saturday, March 21-22, at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. The top-seeded Bulldogs will face Alaska Anchorage in the second semifinal on Friday night with the puck drop set for 7:07 p.m. (ET). Second-seeded Minnesota State faces Bowling Green in the first semifinal Friday afternoon at 2:07 p.m. (ET) with the Broadmoor Trophy Championship game set for Saturday starting at 7:07 p.m. (ET).

Media Coverage: Friday's game along with Saturday's if the Bulldogs advance 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 the start with the online broadcast accessible at FerrisStateBulldogs.com. All links, including live internet statistics, will be available on the online home of Bulldog Athletics.

Television Coverage: All three games of the WCHA Final Five will be produced and televised live by Fox Sports North and also distributed via Fox Sports Wisconsin, Fox Sports Detroit, Sports Time Ohio and Fox College-Sports Central. Both Friday games will be carried in Michigan on Fox Sports Detroit Plus with the title game on Saturday live on the regular Fox Sports Detroit channel. Check local listings for availability.

Ticket Information: Ferris State University fans planning to follow the Bulldogs to Grand Rapids should visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com for information pertaining to ticket sales. FSU student tickets will be sold thru the Ferris State Athletics Ticket Office beginning Monday night with all other tickets available thru Van Andel Arena directly or by Ticketmaster.

What's At Stake: The winner of Saturday night's Broadmoor Trophy Championship game will receive the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament.

Selection Sunday: Ferris State will hold a NCAA "Selection Show" event on Sunday (March 22) at the Buffalo Wild Wings location in Big Rapids. The show airs live on ESPNU beginning at 12 p.m. (ET) with FSU expected to receive the program's third-ever NCAA Tournament appearance regardless of this weekend's results. The Bulldogs are currently tied for third in the nation in the PairWise & RPI rankings, which help determine the national tournament field at the end of the season.

Final Five Kickoff: A free WCHA Final Five Kickoff event will take place this Thursday, March 20, from 4-8 p.m. (ET) at the Deltaplex Arena in Grand Rapids for fans arriving a day early. Organized by the West Michigan Sports Commission and sponsored by the Deltaplex Arena, Experience Grand Rapids and the four participating tournament hotels (Holiday Inn Express North, Riverfront Hotel, SpringHill Suites North and Hampton Inn), the event will feature live music, interactive games and activities, jumbo television screens to watch March Madness basketball, food and drink concessions, plus a chance to see the Broadmoor Trophy that will be awarded to the Final Five champion during the tournament.

Bulldog Headquarters: Ferris State fans are invited to the visit Buffalo Wild Wings in downtown Grand Rapids prior to and after Friday's semifinal along with Saturday should the Bulldogs reach the title game. The "Bulldog Fan Headquarters" is located at 8 Ionia Ave., in downtown near Van Andel Arena.

Number One Seed: The teams who advanced to the WCHA Final Five were reseeded following the first round of the league playoffs last weekend based on regular-season results. Ferris State remains the top seed with Minnesota State still second. Bowling Green will be the third seed and Alaska Anchorage fourth this weekend.

FSU Still Top Seed: Ferris State fans are encouraged to wear "Red" this weekend as the Bulldog Nation invades Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. FSU sold out three student fan buses in the first night when student tickets went on sale Monday evening in Big Rapids and a large contingent of Bulldog fans are expected to follow Ferris State to the WCHA Final Five Championship.

The Records: Ferris State owns a 27-9-3 overall mark heading into Friday's semifinals against Alaska Anchorage. FSU's 27 wins are currently the most in the nation. Meanwhile, Alaska Anchorage enters the weekend holding a 18-15-4 overall record. Ferris State was the top seed entering the league playoffs and swept Bemidji State this past weekend (March 14-15) in Big Rapids while the Seawolves were seeded sixth overall in the field and upset third-seeded rival Alaska on the road in Fairbanks in the deciding game three on Saturday night.

FSU Sweeps First Round: Ferris State earned its trip to Van Andel Arena for the WCHA Final Five Championship following a memorable and thrilling double-overtime triumph over Bemidji State on Saturday (March 15) night in game two at FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena. The nationally-ranked Bulldogs trailed 2-1 late in regulation of their first-round home playoff series, but pulled the goalie for the extra skater to score the game-tying goal with only 45 seconds left to play. Following 20 minutes of scoreless action in the first extra period, the Bulldogs finally won the game in short-handed fashion on a shot from the point by senior captain Scott Czarnowczan 5:15 into the second overtime period. The game-winner capped an exciting night of action that featured a lengthy stoppage late in the opening period due to broken glass and eventually resulted in what is believed to be the longest game ever played inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena as the playoff contest lasted more than 85 minutes.

The Game Winner: After a scoreless first overtime session lasting 20 minutes, finally in the second extra frame, after a penalty was called on the Bulldogs' Justin Buzzeo and FSU went short-handed, Ferris State eventually recorded the game-winner as senior captain Scott Czarnowczan rifled a shot past Bemidji State goaltender Jesse Wilkins for his sixth goal of the year, lifting FSU to the first-round sweep. Junior defenseman Travis White and senior forward Garrett Thompson both picked up assists as the crowd erupted.

Big Season At Home: The Bulldogs, who captured the WCHA Regular-Season Championship this year, completed their home season in Big Rapids unbeaten against WCHA opposition (15-0-1) and improved their nation-leading victory total to 27-9-3 overall with the two weekend wins. The 27 wins are the second-most single season wins in school history. FSU capped off its home campaign with a 16-1-1 overall mark this campaign.

FSU Wins Friday Opener: Top-seeded Ferris State left little doubt in game one of its WCHA best-of-three home playoff series against eighth-seeded Bemidji State on Friday (March 14) night as the Bulldogs rolled to a 8-0 shutout inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena .... Ferris State scored a pair of goals in each of the first two periods and then exploded for four more in the first 13:49 of the final frame to take game one of the weekend series in Big Rapids. It was the most decisive postseason victory in school history for the Bulldogs ..... Junior forward Justin Buzzeo and freshman forward Kyle Schempp each had a pair of goals while junior goaltender CJ Motte picked up 26 saves in earning his fourth shutout of the year.

Big Sweep Of Bemidji: Ferris State moved to 10-5 all-time versus Bemidji State with the two weekend wins and also moved to 5-1 this season against the Beavers. 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). Ironically, the first meeting between FSU and Bemidji State was in 1999 (11/12) and also resulted in an 8-0 Bulldog victory.

Balanced Scoring: Overall, the Bulldogs had nine players pick up two points or more in last Friday's contest against Bemidji State, including three each from both senior forward Cory Kane and junior defenseman Travis White. FSU's Justin Buzzeo, Kyle Schempp, Garrett Thompson, Scott Czarnowczan, Andy Huff, Kenny Babinski and Matt Robertson all had two points each as well. In all, the Bulldogs placed 12 different players in the scoring column in the game one win.

Second All-Time: Ferris State moved to 27-9-3 on the season with the two weekend wins and the Bulldogs' 27 wins to date this year are the most in the country and rank as the second-most wins in a single campaign in school history. FSU topped the Bulldogs' historic 2011-12 squad that reached the NCAA Frozen Four and the national championship game for the second-most victories in a single-campaign in school history and the 27 wins thus far trail only the school-record 31 posted by the 2002-03 squad that won the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) for the first time and made the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance.

Tough At Home: With the weekend sweep, Ferris State also improved to 15-2 all-time in postseason home contests at the Ewigleben Ice Arena. FSU finished with a 16-1-1 mark on home ice this season, which included an impressive 15-0-1 record in Big Rapids against WCHA opponents.

Second All-Time: Ferris State junior goaltender CJ Motte made 34 saves in net for the Bulldogs on Saturday night as he ran his record to 26-7-3 on the year and picked up his 46th career victory, which ranks second all-time on Ferris State's career list. He trails only the school-record 63 total wins that were recorded by 2003 All-American Mike Brown on the school's career leaders chart. Motte is the latest in a series of talented Bulldog goaltenders over the past decade that most recently also included former All-Americans Pat Nagle (2011) and Taylor Nelson (2012). Motte's current total of 26 wins this season is three more than any other goaltender in the country.

Winning Streak: The Bulldogs' current four-game winning streak is tied for the sixth-longest active streak in the nation. FSU had a nation-leading and school-record 16-game unbeaten streak earlier this campaign that stretched from late October until early January.

Against The Seawolves: Ferris State and Alaska Anchorage met for the first time since 1988 earlier this season in February with the Bulldogs taking a weekend home sweep over the Seawolves in Big Rapids. FSU won the opening game (Feb. 21) by a 4-2 score and captured game two (Feb. 22) with a 5-3 triumph. Overall, the Bulldogs now lead the all-time series 3-1-1 overall. UAA won the first ever meeting between the teams at home by a 6-2 score on Dec. 19, 1986, in the Nissan Jeep Classic. The two teams then met for a non-conference series, Feb. 12-13, 1988, with the teams tying on Feb. 12 (5-5) and the Bulldogs winning on Feb. 13 (3-1) in Big Rapids.

Against The Others: Should Ferris State advance to the title game, the Bulldogs would face either Minnesota State or Bowling Green. FSU trails MSU 6-4-2 all-time with the Mavericks earning a sweep in Mankato over the Bulldogs earlier this season (Jan. 17-18). The Bulldogs have played BGSU many more times and own a 56-55-21 all-time mark versus the Falcons after beating Bowling Green 4-2 in the last matcup this year on Nov. 16 in Big Rapids following a 3-3 overtime tie in this season's first game (Nov. 15). FSU has posted a 15-4 mark against Bowling Green in the last 19 matchups and won five of seven meetings during the Bulldogs' historic 2011-12 season in addition to three of four in 2012-13.

Interesting Note: This season, the Bulldogs played four regular-season games each against five teams in the WCHA based on the league's scheduling format. They played only two games against the other four schools, which included the other three Final Five participants in Minnesota State, Bowling Green and Alaska Anchorage. The other team in which FSU played only twice was last-place Alabama Huntsville.

WCHA Playoffs: The Bulldogs were one of four teams who hosted first-round best-of-three playoff action this past weekend. The other first-round matchups included #2 seed Minnesota State sweeping #7 Northern Michigan, #6 Alaska Anchorage topping #3 Alaska in three games along with #4 Bowling Green beating #5 Michigan Tech in two-straight contests. The winner of each opening-round series advanced to Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena for the WCHA Final Five Championship with the league's playoff champion earning the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

Important Information: The 8-0 triumph on Friday against Bemidji State was the Bulldogs' most decisive victory since the school's first CCHA Championship team in 2002-03 posted a 10-1 home win over Bowling Green on Oct. 18, 2002. It marked the third time in which FSU has scored seven goals or more this season as the Bulldogs opened the year with a 7-4 win at Colgate on Oct. 5 and later picked up a 7-1 home win over Northern Michigan on Feb. 7 .... Friday night's victory marked the 12th time in which the Bulldogs have won a playoff-series opening game ..... The Bulldogs had lost a deciding game three contest in each of their last three postseason conference tournament appearances from 2011-13 prior to beating Bemidji State this past weekend.

National Finalist: Bulldog junior goaltender CJ Motte presently is a finalist for two major awards - the inaugural Mike Richter Goaltender of the Year honor along with being one of five national finalists for the Premier Player of College Hockey Award.

Bulldog Playoff Notebook: Ferris State advanced to the WCHA Championship Semifinals at Van Andel Arena with a win on Saturday night. It will mark FSU's fifth-trip ever to the semifinals of a league tournament as Ferris State previously advanced to the CCHA Semifinals four times. FSU reached the CCHA Championship Semifinals at Joe Louis Arena four previous times in 1990-91, 1992-93, 2002-03 and 2009-10 .... Two years ago, the Bulldogs fell in game three of the CCHA second round to Bowling Green at home before eventually receiving an at-large NCAA Tournament bid and reaching the Frozen Four for the first-time ever ... Ferris State presently sports a 27-59-3 (.313) all-time record in postseason league tournament contests, which includes a 15-2 home record and a 10-51-3 away mark after the weekend sweep.  

Great Win Total: The Bulldogs have posted 87 wins over the last four seasons with this year's five-member senior class. The 87 total wins to date rank as the best four-year stretch in school history. Meanwhile, Ferris State's 27 wins to date this season are now the second-most in a single campaign in school history. FSU won a school-record 31 wins in 2002-03 and picked up 26 victories in both 2011-12 and 1979-80. The Bulldogs' 20 league wins this campaign trailed only the 22 victories recorded by the 2002-03 CCHA Championship team for the most conference wins in a single campaign.

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.

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 prior to the playoffs. 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 regular-season games.

Among Best In Nation: Currently, FSU's 27 wins are the most in the country and the Bulldogs also have the nation's fourth-best winning percentage (.731). 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 16-1-1 home mark also ranked as one of the top showings on home ice in the nation this season. Ferris State moved up to tied for third 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 climbed to fourth 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 in January. 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 19 consecutive weeks and found among the country's top 10 teams in each of the last 16 polls.

The Senior Class: FSU honored its five seniors during "Senior Weekend" as the Bulldogs hosted Lake Superior State in the final weekend of regular-season play at the Ewigleben Ice Arena on March 7-8 in Big Rapids. 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 last week's (March 11) 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.

With last week's WCHA recognition, Czarnowczan became 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.

Senior CLASS Award Finalist: FSU senior captain Scott Czarnowczan has been named as one of the 10 national finalists for the Senior CLASS Award for his accomplishments on and off the ice.  The award annually goes to a student-athlete for success on and off the ice. The Bulldogs have now had one of the 10 national finalists for the award each of the last three years in Chad Billins and Kyle Bonis. Fans can vote for Czarnowczan online at www.SeniorClassAward.com.

Hobey Baker Award Nominees: Ferris State junior goaltender CJ Motte and senior forward Garrett Thompson were both among this year's nomineees for the 2014 Hobey Baker Award. The annual award is given to college hockey's top player and fan balloting took place online at www.hobeybakeraward.com. The first phase of fan balloting ran thru 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.

WCHA Award Recipients: Five members of the FSU team claimed 2013-14 All-WCHA Award accolades while head coach Bob Daniels was also recognized as the WCHA Coach of the Year this season. Ferris State had an All-WCHA First Team honoree in junior goaltender CJ Motte along with two second-team picks in senior forward Garrett Thompson and senior defenseman Scott Czarnowczan. Junior defenseman Jason Binkley claimed All-WCHA Third Team recognition with freshman forward Kyle Schempp named to the All-WCHA Rookie Team. The selections represent the first All-WCHA honorees in Bulldog history.

Best Home Record Ever: The Bulldogs' 16-1-1 overall record at home this season ranks as the best in school history. FSU also won 16 games to go with five losses in its initial season of Division I hockey in 1979-80. In the last five years, the Bulldogs have compiled a 63-19-11 overall mark at the Ewigleben Ice Arena, which ranks as the best stretch in the school annals and one of the top marks in the nation. Ferris State also recorded 15 home wins in both 2009-10 and 2011-12 during the run at home.

Home Attendance: Seating was again been at a premium for all FSU home contests this season. Last year, in 2012-13, the Bulldogs officially sold out five times and drew more than 2,000 fans for each of their last 10 regular-season home contests in the 2,400-seat facility.  Overall, FSU has now posted 16 total sellouts at the Ewigleben Ice Arena since the second half of a historic 2011-12 campaign in which the Bulldogs reached the national championship game at the NCAA Frozen Four.    

Dawg Pound Sellout: Ferris State officially sold out its expanded "Dawg Pound" student section for the second consecutive year with more than 600 student season tickets sold this campaign. FSU increased the size and capacity of the student section a year ago due to high demand.  The "Dawg Pound" has been labeled as one of college hockey's top student sections.

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