Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University men's ice hockey program has signed an impressive recruiting class of newcomers including six freshmen, a transfer and a member of the class of 2021 to the roster for the 2018-19 season.
"Overall, this class addresses our needs for immediate help offensively and adds strength and depth defensively," said FSU head coach and two-time National Coach of the Year Bob Daniels. "It is a good mix of experienced players and younger players who will develop over time."
The eight additions to the program expect to add scoring and high-end talent on both ends of the ice to the Bulldog lineup. The class of 2022 includes goaltender Roni Salmenkangas (Tampere, Finland), forwards Jake Transit (Royal Oak), Hunter Wendt (Royal Oak), and Ethan Stewart (Rockford, Ill.) along with defensemen Cooper Zech (South Lyon) and Justin Smith (East Lansing). The Bulldogs also will add a pair of forwards this coming year in transfer Oskar Andren (Daneryd, Sweden) and sophomore Frankie Melton (St. Louis, Mo.) to join the crew.
The eight newcomers represent four junior leagues across North America and Europe, as well as one former member of the NCAA's Hockey East conference.
Below is a look at each of the new additions:
Oskar Andren - Forward - Daneryd, Sweden
Andren joins the class of 2020 after sitting out the 2017-18 season following his transfer from Boston University (Hockey East). After moving stateside in 2014, Andren played for the Lone Star Brahmas where he was a teammate of Boston Bruins draft pick and current Bulldog Cameron Clarke. Andren had 18 goals and 29 assists for 47 points in 51 games with the North American Hockey League's (NAHL) Brahmas that season. Andren played two seasons at Boston University from 2015-2017 and competed in the NCAA West Regional in the 2015-16 season where Ferris State reached the regional championship game.
Coach Daniels: "Having played two seasons at Boston University before transferring and sitting out last season, I am confident in saying that Oskar will be a top nine forward and contributor in all areas. He is a versatile forward who can play all three forward positions."
Frankie Melton - Forward - St. Louis, Missouri
Melton becomes a member of the Bulldog hockey class of 2021 after an impressive junior hockey career in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Melton exploded onto the scene by leading the NAHL in goal scoring in 2016-17 with 35 goals in 57 games while adding 23 assists. Melton was the South Division's Most Valuable player for the Shreveport Mudbugs while also being named to the All-NAHL Team, the All South-Division Team and the South Division's Forward of the Year.
Coach Daniels: "Frankie is a tremendously gifted offensive player who is a natural goal scorer. Frankie will see action immediately as a top nine forward and on the power play."
Roni Salmenkangas - Goalie - Tampere, Finland
Salmenkangas joins the Bulldog roster as a 19-year old product of the HPK U20 program in Finland out of Jr. A SM-lliga, where he compiled an impressive .930 save percentage with a 1.58 goals against average in 45 regular season outings. In the postseason, he also made five appearances with a .926 save percentage and a 1.80 goals against average. Several National Hockey League (NHL) members have played for the prestigious HPK program, including three-time Stanley Cup Champion, Michigan native and former Detroit Red Wings' player Brian Rafalski.
Coach Daniels: "Roni comes from a strong Junior A league in Finland where he posted impressive save percentage and goals against numbers. He is technically sound and an athletic goaltender who will push for playing time immediately."
Cooper Zech - Defense - South Lyon, Michigan
Zech becomes the second Bulldog in four years to be one of the British Columbia Hockey League's (BCHL) top performers, as he put on a show in his year with the BCHL Champion Wenatchee Wild. Zech had 11 goals and 58 assists for 69 points in 58 regular season games with the Wild while being named the BCHL's Top Defenseman. Zech led the league in assists, paced all defensemen in points and was a First Team All-Star. The South Lyon native was a part of the first United States based BCHL team to claim the Fred Page Cup since 1979 with their victory this spring, and he followed up his impressive regular season with four goals and 19 assists for 23 points in 20 playoff games. Zech had a goal and two assists in the championship clinching game to lead all scorers.
Coach Daniels: "Cooper is a gifted offensive style defensemen with excellent skating and puck skills. He has great instincts and is not afraid to join in the rush. Cooper's playmaking ability will be a welcome addition to our defensive corps."
Justin Smith - Defense - East Lansing, Michigan
Smith comes to Ferris State with several existing ties to the Bulldogs after two seasons in the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Smith played for coach and Ferris State Alum Justin DeMartino, a member of both the Bulldogs' NCAA Frozen Four (2011-12) and NCAA Final Eight (2013-14) teams, with the Topeka Roadrunners in 2017-18 for his final 37 games of his junior career. Smith had six points on three goals and three assists in 51 games between the Philadelphia Rebels and Topkea in 2017-18. Smith's uncle Doug played for Ferris State for three seasons from 1991-1994, and playe under Daniels in his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, in which he had back-to-back 20 goal seasons in 1992-93 and 1993-94.
Coach Daniels: "Justin is a stay at home, defensive defenseman whose size and strength will add depth to our defense corps as he gains experience at the collegiate level."
Ethan Stewart - Forward - Rockford, Illinois
Stewart joins the class of 2022 after a strong showing in the North American Hockey League with the Springfield Jr. Blues, in which he scored 17 goals to go with 30 assists for 47 points in 60 games in 2017-18. In three seasons in the NAHL, he spent time with the Aberdeen Wings and Kenai River Brown Bears as well. Ethan comes from a hockey family, as brother Hayden spent four seasons with the Cornell Big Red as a goaltender from 2014-2018 and played in four games for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) this past spring.
Coach Daniels: "Ethan is an experienced forward having played three seasons in the North American Junior Hockey League. His size, strength, and honest two-way game should allow for a quick transition to college hockey."
Hunter Wendt - Forward - Royal Oak, Michigan
Wendt is another Bulldog with Ferris State ties, as father Tim played for the Bulldogs back in the early stages of the program from 1981-1985. Wendt was better than a point-per-game in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs in 2017-18 while leading the league in assists (44) and was on the All-NAHL Team. Wendt also picked up 17 goals for 61 points in 60 regular-season games. Prior to 2017-18, Wendt also had a good showing in his first year of junior hockey with 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points in 59 games while being named to the All-NAHL Rookie team in 2016-17.
Coach Daniels: "Hunter is a playmaking forward with good on ice vision and passing skills. With experience, he should find playing time on our power play."
Jake Transit - Forward – Royal Oak, Michigan
Another in a pair of Royal Oak natives, Transit spent 2017-18 with the Shreveport Mudbugs in the NAHL where he won the Robertson Cup. Transit saw time with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League (USHL) as well in 2017-18. Transit picked up 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points in 45 games with the Mudbugs this past season. He spent 32 games with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies before getting the call to Shreveport in 2016-17. Transit also took part in the NAHL Top Prospects game.
Coach Daniels: "Jake is a young forward joining our program with a lot of promise. As he garners strength, experience and confidence he will develop into a strong contributor."
The Bulldogs will return all but six skaters from the 2017-18 squad, including 13 of their top 15 point-scorers for the 2018-19 campaign. Since 2012, the Bulldogs have made three NCAA Tournament Appearances with two trips to the NCAA Final Eight and one to the National Championship Game, while winning their conference regular season championships in 2012 and 2014, and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Postseason Championship in 2016.