Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ferris State's run ends in regional final

By Tom Morelli/Ferris State Beat Writer

Ferris State's chance of completing their unfinished business from two years ago was nixed on Saturday night after losing a 2-1 double-overtime thriller to North Dakota at the Midwest Regional Championship in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Both teams mirrored each other from the beginning, with neither one able to find the back of the net in the first period.

The Bulldogs grabbed the initial lead at the 7:31 mark of the second, thanks to senior Cory Kane's 14th goal of the campaign from between the faceoff circles. Fellow classmate Andy Huff and junior netminder C.J. Motte were both credited with assists on that play.

Just over three minutes later, North Dakota was able to even-up matters while on the man-advantage. Nick Mattson fed a one-timer to Paul LaDue at the blue line, which was subsequently deflected in by Stephane Pattyn from just outside the crease.

The contest remained deadlocked at one goal apiece until Connor Gaarder of North Dakota netted the game-winner off a back-handed redirect in front with 1:28 elapsed in the second overtime session. On a play that was eerily similar to the previous goal, North Dakota's Mattson and LaDue both picked-up their second helpers of the evening.

Despite the loss, Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels was very supportive of his team after the game.

"First of all, I want congratulate North Dakota in winning tonight and playing a great game," said Daniels. "[But] I want to congratulate our players as well. They really played well, and, more importantly, it's been a great ride. I'm exceedingly proud and realize that we're going to look back and be appreciative of this year. Its a little painful right now, but I am very appreciative of the efforts of our team."

The Bulldogs outshot their opposition 45-26, increasing their shot production gradually as the game wore on.

Motte had 24 saves to finish his second season as a starter with a 28-9-3 ledger. At the other end of the ice, Zane Gothberg made 44 stops to notch his 20th win of the season.

Senior captain Scott Czarnowczan, Kane and Motte were named to the All-Midwest Regional Tournament Team, where they were joined by North Dakota's Rocco Grimaldi, Gaarder and LaDue.

Ferris State finishes the 2013-2014 season with an overall record of 29-11-3.

Ferris State 1, Colgate 0: In Friday's opening round of 16, freshman Gerald Mayhew knocked in a loose puck at 10:01 in the first period to advance the Bulldogs to the Midwest Regional Championship. Motte stopped all 35 shots to secure his fifth shutout of the season.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

FSU secures NCAA bid despite loss in finals

By Tom Morelli/Ferris State Beat Writer

There's no shame in losing, especially when you have the clout that Ferris State has amassed throughout the season.

The Bulldogs bounced past Alaska Anchorage in the WCHA semifinals with a 5-4 overtime win, before being ousted by Minnesota State 4-1 in the championship game.

But the loss comes without consequence, as Ferris State's overall record of 28-10-3 and WCHA regular season title was enough to merit a spot amongst the 16 teams vying for the NCAA Championship.

In their journey to make it to the NCAA tournament, the Bulldogs first had to cross paths with the Seawolves in Friday's semifinal, whom they previously beat twice during the regular season.

Ferris State however found out quickly that this was no walk in the park, after seeing their 2-0 lead in the first disappear with four consecutive goals by Alaska Anchorage by the midpoint of the following period.

Senior forward Garrett Thompson helped spark the Bulldogs' comeback at 12:50, scoring his team-high 16th goal of the campaign courtesy of a 2-on-1 situation. Earning helpers on that play were Justin Buzzeo and Scott Czarnowczan.

Less than three minutes later, another senior came through in the clutch for Ferris State, with Andy Huff finding the back of the net for the game-tying goal.

The Bulldogs needed just 2:38 seconds of the overtime session to finish the job, which came courtesy of a Gerald Mayhew shot from between the faceoff circles that trickled past Seawolves' netminder Chris Kamal.

Goaltender C.J. Motte finished with 34 saves for Ferris State, while Rob Gunderson surrendered four goals on 12 shots for Alaska Anchorage in the first two periods before being pulled. In his 23:38 seconds of relief duty, Kamal had 10 stops to his credit.

Saturday's tournament final was a much tougher challenge for the Bulldogs, who found themselves in a 2-0 hole against the Mavericks after just 20 minutes of action.

It wasn't until the final minute of the second frame that Ferris State responded, thanks to Mayhew's diving effort from outside the crease that cut the deficit in half. Helping to set-up the scoring play were Cory Kane and Huff.

Any chance of a Bulldog comeback was put to rest in the third period, as Brett Knowles notched an insurance goal at the 8:38 mark, followed by Teddy Blueger's empty-netter with four seconds remaining.

Motte (27-8-3) held a narrow edge over counterpart Cole Huggins in the saves department, 28-25.

Mayhew was the only Ferris State player named to the WCHA Final Five All-Tournament Team, joining the likes of Minnesota State's Bryce Gervais, Brett Stern, Blueger and Huggins (tournament MVP).

Up next for the Bulldogs is a first-round draw in the Midwest Regional against Colgate on March 28 at the US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio. The winner of that game will face either North Dakota or Wisconsin the following night in the regional final.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bulldogs advance to WCHA Semifinals

By Tom Morelli/Ferris State Beat Writer

Never judge a book by its cover.

It's a lesson that Bemidji State learned the hard way this past weekend, when Ferris State defenseman Scott Czarnowczan rifled the game-winning shot from the blueline in double overtime to help the Bulldogs move onto the second round of the WCHA Tournament.

A senior, Czarnowczan has shown time and again that he plays much bigger than his 5-foot-10, 176 pounds frame may suggest. After an injury-plagued junior season, Czarnowczan has rebounded to become Ferris State's top scoring defenseman with 24 points (six goals, 18 assists) in 37 games, ranking him fifth overall on the team. In addition, the team captain was also recently named to the WCHA All-Second Team alongside classmate Garrett Thompson.

Czarnowczan's goal capped a run that saw the No. 6 ranked Bulldogs bounce back from a 2-1 deficit, which began with sophomore Matt Roberton's game-tying goal with 45 seconds left in regulation to force the extra session.

Ferris State took the initial lead on Saturday night following Brandon Anselmini netting his fifth goal of the campaign with 3:50 elapsed in the contest.

An untimely hit to Cory Kane later in the frame caused the glass boards to shatter behind the Beavers' net, causing a lengthy delay in action.

The Bulldogs' momentum would come to a temporary halt in the second period, when Phil Brewer evened-up the score at the 1:17 mark, followed by Nate Arentz's go-ahead marker a mere five minutes later.

Junior netminder C.J. Motte logged nearly 85 minutes of action to pick-up his 26th win of the season, collecting 34 saves in the process.

There was less dramatics on the previous night, as Ferris State coasted to an 8-0 decision in which six different players lit the lamp.

Forwards Justin Buzzeo and Kyle Schempp gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 advantage midway through the opening stanza, scoring their goals nearly two minutes apart. The duo would also find themselves on the score-sheet later in the game, with Buzzeo's coming at 16:15 in the second and Schempp equaling the feat 5:23 into the third.

Junior defenseman Travis White made it a 3-0 affair just shy of the 11-minute mark of the second, blasting a knuckle-puck from the right slot that found its way past Bemidji State goaltender Andrew Walsh.

35 seconds after Schempp netted his second goal of the evening, Kane upped the Bulldogs lead to six off a costly turnover by the Beavers in their defensive zone. The play began with Gerald Mayhew chipping the puck out from along the boards and onto the stick of Andy Huff, who then flipped it up-ice for Kane to finish the tic-tac-toe play.

Robertson centered to puck to sophomore Kenny Babinski from down-low to make it a 7-0 affair at 12:47, before Huff finished off Ferris State's scoring binge a minute later.

Motte recorded 26 saves en route to his fourth shutout of the season, while Walsh stopped 15 shots on 23 opportunities.

Ferris State (27-9-3 overall) faces off with Alaska Anchorage in the WCHA Semifinals this Friday at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The winner of that contest will meet either Bowling Green State or Minnesota State in the WCHA Championship Game the very next night.

WCHA announces 2013-2014 honors


WCHA Press Release
 
MADISON, Wis.University of Alaska forward Cody Kunyk was chosen as Western Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Year and the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Chad Brears earned WCHA Outstanding-Student Athlete of the Year honors to highlight 2013-14 men’s awards announced by the conference today.
 
The league’s five other major individual awards went to University of Alaska defenseman Colton Parayko as WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, Lake Superior State University forward Alex Globke as WCHA Rookie of the Year, Alaska’s Cody Kunyk as WCHA Scoring Champion, Minnesota State University’s Cole Huggins as WCHA Goaltending Champion, and Bob Daniels of Ferris State University as WCHA Coach of the Year.
 
Kunyk (Sherwood Park, AB) finished the regular season of his senior campaign as the WCHA scoring champion, accruing 34 points on 17 goals and 17 assists in Alaska’s 28 conference games. In the 34-game regular-season schedule, he scored a single-season career-high 42 points with a WCHA-high 22 goals to go with 20 assists. Also named to the All-WCHA First Team and to the WCHA All-Academic Team, Kunyk has recorded five multiple-goal outings this season, including a career-best four goals in the Nanooks’ victory over Alaska Anchorage on March 7. That mark was achieved by only three other collegians during the 2013-14 year. He leads the nation with seven game-winning goals, scored six power-play and two shorthanded goals and owns a stellar +14 plus/minus rating. Kunyk currently ranks 13th all-time on the program’s scoring list with 132 points (60g, 72a) in 145 career games.
 
Brears (Cold Lake, AB), a forward at Alabama Huntsville, was chosen by member team Faculty Representatives as WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year. Majoring in Mechanical Engineering, Brears has maintained a 4.0 GPA in one of the institution’s most difficult degree programs and despite the constant demands of being a student-athlete and the extensive travel involved as a member of the Chargers’ hockey team. He earned WCHA Scholar-Athlete honors in mid-February, is a member of the WCHA All-Academic Team, and is one of his team’s leaders both on and off the ice. He is an enthusiastic participant in mentoring activities with local school children and an all-around great representative of the ethos of college hockey. In 35 games played this season, Brears tied for third on the team in points with 10 and was second on the team in goals scored with six. Brears’ on-ice moment of the year came at Bemidji State on Feb. 28 when he fed a pretty pass to Jack Prince who scored the game-winning goal for a key road victory over a long-time rival. The WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year Award is determined from nominations made by the member institutions and each institution then has one final vote.
 
The league’s 10 head coaches voted Alaska defenseman Colton Parayko (St. Albert, AB) as the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year. An All-WCHA First Team selection as just a sophomore, Parayko finished his second collegiate season as one of the leading offensive defenseman in the league, ranking tied for third with 18 points (4g, 14a) in the 28-game league slate. In Alaska’s 34 regular-season outings, he tallied 23 points (4g, 19a) and led all defenders with 19 assists. Defensively, he is always matched up against the opponents’ top lines and is a leader in ice time. He blocked a nation’s second-best 2.65 blocks per game (90) and owns a standout +17 plus/minus rating. Then Nanooks went 13-5-0 when he recorded at least one point, compared to their 4-8-4 mark when he went without a point. He has had five multiple-point outings during the season and has scored all four of his goals on the power-play.
 
Honored by voters as the WCHA Rookie of the Year for 2013-14 is Lake Superior State University forward Alex Globke, who also earned All-WCHA Rookie Team accolades. Globke (Waterford, MI), who produced 31 points (12g, 19a) to lead the Lakers and played in all 36 games, was one of his club’s most consistent offensive players. As a freshman among a senior-laden squad, Globke produced points at a rapid pace. He lead the WCHA in freshman goals, assists, and points. He currently sits tied for seventh nationally in rookie scoring, while also finishing eighth in overall conference scoring. Globke also finished tied for sixth in overall assists in league play. He produced like an experienced veteran and helped anchor one of the most effective lines in the league with seniors Colin Campbell and Dan Radke. With center Radke out for two straight weeks and gone from the top line, Globke added four assists over the four games against conference foes Michigan Tech and Bemidji State. He has been named conference Rookie of the Week. Globke began his collegiate career with 15 points in his first 12 games including seven in his first six.
 
The WCHA Scoring Champion for 2013-14 is Alaska’s Cody Kunyk while the league goaltending champion is Minnesota State University rookie Cole Huggins. Huggins (Centennial, CO), who has three shutouts in his last four games played heading into the playoffs, owns an overall 17-7-1 won-loss record, a 1.96 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. He has started 15 of the last 17 games for the Mavericks, ranks ninth in the nation in goals-against average, 27th in save percentage and his school-record tying five shutouts on the year is tied for third. Huggins led the league with a 1.73 goals-against average and .794 winning percentage (he was 17-4-1 in league games), tied for the league lead with a .927 save percentage and was named WCHA Rookie of the Week following MSU’s games with Bowling Green (Nov. 15-16) and WCHA Defensive Player of the Week after the Mavericks earned a league road sweep at Lake Superior State (Feb. 28-March 1). He had a career-high 33 saves in 1-0 shutout victory vs. Bowling Green Nov. 9.
 
Chosen as the WCHA Coach of the Year is Bob Daniels of Ferris State University, who led the Bulldogs to the regular season title as first-year league members. In the midst of his 22nd season at the helm and a two-time National Coach of the Year Award recipient, Daniels led the Bulldogs to their second conference championship in the last three years as FSU became only the third program ever to win both the WCHA and the former Central Collegiate Hockey Association titles. The Bulldogs led the league race from wire-to-wire in claiming the fabled MacNaughton Cup and securing the number one seed for the league playoffs. During the 2013-14 season, the Bulldogs established a new school record under Daniels with a nation-leading 16-game unbeaten streak, which lasted from late October until early January. Ferris State did not drop a conference game until the middle of January and the Bulldogs finished the regular-season with a first-place 20-6-2 league slate.
 
Under Daniels’ leadership, Ferris State has compiled a nation-leading 25 wins (25-9-3), the fourth most in school history, and the Bulldogs own one of the country’s top marks on home ice with a 14-1-1 record inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena. FSU, ranked as high as second and among the nation’s top 10 teams each of the last 15 weeks, went unbeaten at home (13-0-1) in conference action and posted its sixth-straight season with increased home attendance. This season’s average of 2,141 fans per game was its best in 32 years. Additionally, Ferris State is also presently sixth in the national PairWise and RPI rankings with the Bulldogs eyeing their third overall NCAA Tournament bid, including the second in three seasons following the memorable 2011-12 run to the national championship game at the NCAA Frozen Four.
 
Four conference teams – Alaska, Alaska Anchorage, Ferris State and Minnesota State – are represented on the All-WCHA First Team, with both the Nanooks and the Mavericks having two honorees each. Named to the All-WCHA First Team, with statistics for league games, were forwards Cody Kunyk (Sr., Alaska, 28 gp, 17-17=34), Matt Bailey (Sr., Alaska Anchorage, 28 gp, 12- 15=27), and Matt Leitner (Jr., Minnesota State, 26 gp, 8-25=33), defensemen Colton Parayko (So., Alaska, 28 gp, 4-14=18) and Zach Palmquist (Jr., Minnesota State, 28 gp, 3-16=19), and goaltender C.J. Motte (Jr., Ferris State, 19-6-2, 2.29, .927).
 
Voted to the All-WCHA Second Team were forwards Jean- Paul Lafontaine (Jr., Minnesota State, 28 gp, 16-16=32), Colton Beck (Sr., Alaska, 28 gp, 11-19=30) and Garrett Thompson (Sr., Ferris State, 28 gp, 11-7=18), defensemen Scott Czarnowczan (Sr., Ferris State, 28 gp, 4-13=17) and Kevin Czuczman (Jr., Lake Superior State, 28 gp, 6-9=15) and goaltender Cole Huggins (Fr., Minnesota State, 17-4-1, 1.73, .927).
 
Named to the All-WCHA Third Team for 2013-14 were forwards Tyler Morley (So., Alaska, 25 gp, 15-14=29), Zach Lehrke (Sr., Minnesota State, 24 gp, 7-18=25) and Johnny McInnis (Sr., Minnesota State, 28 gp, 17-11=28), defensemen Matt Prapavessis (Jr., Bemidji State, 28 gp, 5-12=17) and Jason Binkley (Jr., Ferris State, 26 gp, 2-16=18), and goaltender Kevin Kapalka (Sr., Lake Superior State, 8-9-0, 2.62, .924).
 
And voted to the All-WCHA Rookie Team were forwards Alex Globke (Fr., Lake Superior State, 28 gp, 9-12=21), Marcus Basara (Fr., Alaska, 28 gp, 9-12=21) and Kyle Schempp (Fr., Ferris State, 28 gp, 6-12=18), defensemen Shane Hanna (Fr., Michigan Tech, 28 gp, 4-18=22), Ruslan Pedan (Fr., Bemidji State, 28 gp, 3-8=11) and Sean Flanagan (Fr., Minnesota State, 24 gp, 5-6=11), and goaltender Cole Huggins (Fr., Minnesota State, 17-4-1, 1.73, .927).
 
A repeat all-league honoree from 2012-13 was forward Matt Leitner of Minnesota State, who was an All-WCHA First Team selection this season after being All-WCHA Third Team a season ago. Alaska forward Cody Kunyk, who was an All-WCHA First Team choice, was an All-CCHA Second Team honoree in 2011-12 while Nanooks’ forward Tyler Morley, who was All-WCHA Third Team, was a member of the All-CCHA Rookie Team in 2012-13. And Lake Superior goaltender Kevin Kapalka, an All-WCHA Third Team selection, was named to the All-CCHA Rookie Team in 2010-11.
 
Seven players who were named as major award winners and/or to this season’s all-league teams were also honored as WCHA Scholar-Athletes for 2013-14 back on Feb. 13. They were forward Chad Brears of Alabama Huntsville (WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year), forward Matt Bailey of Alaska Anchorage (All-WCHA First Team), defenseman Colton Parayko of Alaska (WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, All-WCHA First Team), Bemidji State defenseman Matt Prapavessis (All-WCHA Third Team), Ferris State defenseman Jason Binkley (All-WCHA Third Team), Lake Superior State defenseman Kevin Czuczman (All-WCHA Second Team) and Lakers’ goaltender Kevin Kapalka (All-WCHA Third Team). To earn recognition as a WCHA Scholar- Athlete, student-athletes must have completed at least one year of residency at their present institution prior to the current academic year and must also have a grade-point average of at least 3.50 on a 4.0 scale for the previous two semesters or three quarters, or may qualify if his or her overall GPA is at least 3.50 for all terms at his or her present institution.
 
Major award winners and/or members named to all-league teams who were also earned 2013-14 WCHA All-Academic Team honors were: Chad Brears of Alabama Huntsville (WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year), Matt Bailey of Alaska Anchorage (All-WCHA First Team), Alaska’s Colton Beck (All- WCHA Second Team), Cody Kunyk (WCHA Player of the Year, All-WCHA First Team), Tyler Morley (All-WCHA Third Team) and Colton Parayko (WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, All-WCHA First Team), Bemidji State’s Matt Prapavessis (All-WCHA Third Team), Ferris State’s Scott Czarnowczan (All-WCHA Second Team) and C.J. Motte (All-WCHA First Team), Lake Superior State’s Kevin Czuczman (All-WCHA Second Team) and Kevin Kapalka (All-WCHA Third Team), and Minnesota State’s Zach Lehrke (All-WCHA Third Team) and Zach Palmquist (All-WCHA First Team).
 
Voting for WCHA awards and all-league teams is done by member team head and assistant coaches and captains or sports information directors. Each team receives four ballots for a total of 40 voters. Points for awards and all-league teams are awarded on a 5-point (1st team vote), 3-point (2nd team vote), and 1-point (3rd team vote) basis. The WCHA Outstanding Student- Athlete of the Year award is administered by member team Faculty Athletic Representatives. The WCHA Defensive Player of the Year is chosen by the league’s 10 head coaches.
 
WCHA Player of the Year
Cody Kunyk • Forward, Senior, University of Alaska (Sherwood Park, AB)
 
WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year
Chad Brears • Forward, Sophomore, University of Alabama in Huntsville (Cold Lake, AB)
 
WCHA Defensive Player of the Year
Colton Parayko • Defenseman, Sophomore, University of Alaska (St. Albert, AB)
 
WCHA Rookie of the Year
Alex Globke • Forward, Freshman, Lake Superior State University (Waterford, MI)
 
WCHA Scoring Champion
Cody Kunyk • Forward, Senior, University of Alaska (Sherwood Park, AB)
 
WCHA Goaltending Champion
Cole Huggins • Freshman, Goaltender, Minnesota State University (Centennial, CO)
 
WCHA Coach of the Year
Bob Daniels • Ferris State University
 
 
2013-14 All-WCHA First Team
Pos Name Team Ht Wt Yr Hometown 2013-14 WCHA Stats
F Cody Kunyk Alaska 5-11 197 Sr Sherwood Park, AB 28 gp, 17-17=34
F Matt Bailey Alaska Anchorage 6-1 196 Sr Oakbank, MB 28 gp, 12-15=27
F Matt Leitner Minnesota State 5-9 175 Jr Los Alamitos, CA 26 gp, 8-25=33
D Colton Parayko Alaska 6-5 218 So St. Albert, AB 28 gp, 4-14=18
D Zach Palmquist Minnesota State 6-0 175 Jr South St. Paul, MN 28 gp, 3-16=19
G C.J. Motte Ferris State 6-0 190 Jr St. Clair, MI 19-6-2, 2.29, .927
 
2013-14 All-WCHA Second Team
Pos Name Team Ht Wt Yr Hometown 2013-14 WCHA Stats
F Jean-Paul Lafontaine Minnesota State 5-10 172 Jr Oxford, MI 28 gp, 16-16=32
F Colton Beck Alaska 5-11 187 Sr Langley, BC 28 gp, 11-19=30
F Garrett Thompson Ferris State 6-2 191 Sr Traverse City, MI 28 gp, 11-7=18
D Scott Czarnowczan Ferris State 5-10 176 Sr Macomb, MI 28 gp, 4-13=17
D Kevin Czuczman Lake Superior State 6-3 205 Jr Port Elgin, ON 28 gp, 6-9=15
G Cole Huggins Minnesota State 6-0 180 Fr Centennial, CO 17-4-1, 1.73, .927
 
2013-14 All-WCHA Third Team
Pos Name Team Ht Wt Yr Hometown 2013-14 WCHA Stats
F Tyler Morley Alaska 5-8 174 So Burnaby, BC 25 gp, 15-14=29
F Zach Lehrke Minnesota State 5-8 170 Sr Park Rapids, MN 24 gp, 7-18=25
F Johnny McInnis Minnesota State 6-1 195 Sr Boston, MA 28 gp, 17-11=28
D Matt Prapavessis Bemidji State 6-1 183 Jr Oakville, ON 28 gp, 5-12=17
D Jason Binkley Ferris State 5-9 191 Jr Powell, OH 26 gp, 2-16=18
G Kevin Kapalka Lake Superior State 6-1 206 Sr Mississauga, ON 8-9-0, 2.62, .924
 
2013-14 All-WCHA Rookie Team
Pos Name Team Ht Wt Yr Hometown 2013-14 WCHA Stats
F Alex Globke Lake Superior State 6-3 206 Fr Waterford, MI 28 gp, 9-12=21
F Marcus Basara Alaska 6-0 197 Fr Port Moody, BC 28 gp, 9-12=21
F Kyle Schempp Ferris State 6-0 178 Fr Saginaw, MI 28 gp, 6-12=18
D Shane Hanna Michigan Tech 5-11 190 Fr Salmon Arm, BC 28 gp, 4-18=22
D Ruslan Pedan Bemidji State 6-0 190 Fr Moscow, Russia 28 gp, 3-8=11
D Sean Flanagan Minnesota State 6-1 180 Fr Kindersly, SK 24 gp, 5-6=11
G Cole Huggins Minnesota State 6-0 180 Fr Centennial, CO 17-4-1, 1.73, .927

Friday, March 14, 2014

Roque out at LSSU

By Michael David/LSSU Beat Writer

Lake Superior State University announced yesterday that they will not be renewing head coach Jim Roque's contract for next season. They also stated on their official website that a national search for his successor will start immediately.

The Lakers were 16-19-1 this season, and was one of only two teams left out of the WCHA Playoffs. Roque's career record at Lake State was 136-165-1 over nine seasons. He took the helm of the Lakers in 2005, and led them to their first winning season in six years, and a year later to the team's first CCHA semifinal appearance in 11 years. Over the years Roque's team have had the habit of a strong start, only to falter later in the season. The Lakers spent many weeks this season ranked in the top 20 before the Christmas break, and their late season slide.

Roque is a former Laker himself, donning the anchor from 1983-87, and was part of the first squad to make the NCAA tournament in 1985. As an assistant coach at Lake State, he served under Frank Anzalone during their 1988 National Championship season, and Jeff Jackson during the 1992 National Championship season. He also coached under Mark Morris at Clarkson, where the Golden Knights qualified for the NCAA tournament four times.

"I appreciate how much Jim Roque loves Laker Hockey, and we thank him for what he has devoted to our program," stated LSSU Athletic Director Kris Dunbar. "I wish him the best, but at this time we are choosing to move in a different direction with our leadership."

Finding a new head coach won't be an easy task for Dunbar, either. LSSU is the smallest state college in Michigan, and finances will always be at the head of any discussion. Laker fans probably won't see an NHL caliber behind the bench at Taffy Abel Arena any time soon. To get the program back on a winning track, however, they will need to find a way to generate some funds. The first thing the Lakers will need, is a president who will back the hockey program 100%, and realize that a successful team on the ice may help to increase the enrollment. I admit, I'm not too familiar with new president Thomas Pleger, but he'll need to be on board if the Lakers are to see any success like they did in in the late '80's and early '90's.

The school will also need to reach out to their alumni. Back in the day, many former Lakers went on play hockey professionally, many in the NHL. Of all these players, only Doug Weight has given back, in the form of an endowment scholarship. There's really no reason for them not to pitch in, and help their alma mater regain some respect in the college hockey world. Even recently, three players off last year's squad left early to sign pro contracts. It will be critical to the program for them to give a little back to the school that helped get them to that level.

With the Laker rich hockey history, there are plenty of names out there with ties to the school, but unfortunately I doubt Doug Weight, Paul Jerrard, or Ron Rolston will be an option. It will be interesting to see where the search will take this program. Will Dunbar go with another Laker alumnus, or a young coach looking to make a name for himself?

One name the cold winds are blowing around the Soo is Rich Metro, who was an assistant under Roque from 2008-12. A Sault Ste. Marie native who played over at Northern Michigan, Metro left to become head coach and general manager of Villard de Lans in France. You really can't have a coaching job come along in the area without Joey Shawhan's name thrown in the hat, either. He's a Laker alumni, former assistant, and was very successful as head coach of the Soo Indians of the NAHL. Tim Christian has been an assistant for the Lakers for 12 seasons, and may be able to make a case for himself also. He's done a solid job of recruiting, as noted by the players leaving to sign pro contract. Just this week Kevin Czuczman left early to sign with the New York Islanders and goalie Kevin Kapalka signed with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL). Christian has to take some credit for recruiting those types of players.

Whoever Pleger and Dunbar hire to captain the Lakers, fans and alumni can only hope they he can right the ship, and not into deadly waters. It's been exactly 20 years since the Lakers hoisted a National Championship trophy. While we really don't expect the program to be as dominant as it was during those glory years, being a competitive team in the WCHA is really not too much to ask for.


Sunday, March 09, 2014

Bulldogs capture WCHA crown in sweep

Ferris State celebrates after winning the WCHA regular-season title
(Photo Credit: Ferris State Athletics)
By Tom Morelli/Ferris State Beat Writer

Ferris State's transition into the WCHA this past year has been relatively flawless, but it hasn't come without a challenge or two.

Going into the final week of the regular season, the No. 7 ranked Bulldogs remained tied with Minnesota State at 38 points for the top spot of the standings.

In the ultimate mix of both luck and skill, Ferris State was able to defeat Lake Superior State on consecutive nights, while Minnesota State finished with a win and a tie against Michigan Tech. As a result, the Bulldogs were able to nab the conference championship in their inaugural WCHA run by a single point.

Action didn't pick-up until late in the first period of Friday's contest, when senior Cory Kane moved in from the right side of the net to beat Lakers netminder Kevin Kapalka with 5:35 left for his 12th goal of the campaign, which came via the power play. Earning assists on that play were defensemen Scott Czarnowczan and Jason Binkley.

Ferris State upped their lead midway though the second using a bit of trickery to find the back of the net. Senior Justin DeMartino skated in on the right wing before centering the puck to a streaking Dakota Klecha. After rifling a shot toward the net, the puck bounced off the side of Rob Schempp and trickled its way past the goal line.

It wasn't until the 12:47 mark that Lake Superior State was able to respond, with Dan Radke winning the faceoff draw to the left of the net and feeding it to Colin Campbell from just outside the circle.

Kapalka recorded 42 saves in the loss, compared to C.J. Motte's 32 stops.

Saturday's contest consisted of the Bulldogs honoring their five seniors (Czarnowczan, DeMartino, Andy Huff, Kane and Garrett Thompson) prior to the start of the game, which was a fitting tribute considering that three of them accounted for all of Ferris State's points in their 2-1 decision.

The Bulldogs jumped on their opposition early, using a 4-on-3 situation to their advantage with Thompson finishing off a pass from Czarnowczan just 1:03 into the contest for his 15th marker of the year.

A mere 51 seconds later Czarnowczan was able to light the lamp himself, courtesy of a nifty set-up pass by DeMartino.

Despite being a man down to start the middle stanza, the Lakers were able to generate some offense, with Campbell netting his second goal in as many nights with 29 seconds elapsed.

Motte improved to 24-7-3 as a starter with 24 saves to his credit, while Kapalka collected 29 at the other end of the ice.

Despite being tied with Bemidji State for eighth place in the WCHA standings, Lake Superior State lost the tiebreaker and will not participate in the WCHA Quarterfinals. The Lakers finish the 2013-2014 season with an overall record of 16-19-1 and were 12-16-0 in conference play.

Ferris State (25-9-3 overall, 20-6-2 WCHA) enters the tournament as the No. 1 seed and will host Bemidji State in a best-of-three series beginning Friday at 7:07 pm.