Ferris State University has announced five more players who will attend FSU and join the school's program for the 2006-07 season after each signed a National Letter of Intent with the Bulldogs.
Ferris State filled a number of needs with its six-member recruiting class according to head coach Bob Daniels.
The five-member group includes goaltender Jordan Barber (Caledonia), defenseman Matt Case and forwards Casey Haines, Aaron Lewicki (Livonia) and Blair Riley.
The five newcomers join forward Cody Chupp (Big Rapids), who inked with the Bulldogs during last November's early-signing period.
“Collectively, this is a solid recruiting class,” said Daniels, who will begin his 15th year at Ferris State this upcoming 2006-07 season and is the Bulldogs' all-time winningest coach. “This incoming group of recruits meets a lot of our needs and even though we don't really have any big-name headliner recruits this year, I believe they can contribute and become an important part of Bulldog hockey over the next four years.
"I'm confident these young men will compliment our returning team members quite well. They're all hard-working kids and sound academically which is a plus," added Daniels, the 2002-03 American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) Division I Hockey Coach of the Year.
Jordan Barber, a 6-2, 180-pound goaltender, played the 2005-06 season with the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Junior Owls of the Central States Hockey League (CSHL). He registered a 12-12-0 overall mark this past campaign to go with a 3.36 goals-against average and a .916 saves percentage in 26 contests for head coach Mike Flanagan's team. Barber's goals-against average ranked 22nd best on the 2005-06 CSHL leaders list. He totaled 925 saves and had 85 goals allowed in 1,517 minutes of action this past season.
“Jordan is a competitive individual who possesses a good work ethic and attitude,” said Daniels. “He's a fundamentally-solid goaltender and should improve our depth between the posts.”
A 6-0, 185-pound defenseman, Matt Case arrives to Ferris via the United States Hockey League's (USHL) Green Bay (Wis.) Gamblers under head coach Mark Mazzoleni. He posted 12 points with three goals and nine assists in 60 contests for the 2005-06 campaign. Case's points total was fourth highest among the squad's defensemen and ranked tied for 41st place in the USHL.
“Matt is highly-capable "defensive" defenseman and a good one-on-one defender which you can never have enough of on the blueline,” said Daniels. “He understands his role and doesn't shy away from being physical because of a warrior-like mentality. Matt will be ready to step on the ice and serve his role from day one.”
Casey Haines, a 5-10, 180-pound forward, garnered second-team North American Hockey League (NAHL) honors this past season while skating for the Texarkana (Texas) Bandits. The left-handed forward lead Texarkana with 73 points on 29 goals (third highest on team) and a squad-best tying 44 assists in 58 outings. He placed tied for sixth place among the NAHL's 2005-06 points leaders as the Bandits posted a 42-14 overall record while finishing second in the NAHL's South Division under head coach Jon Cooper. Haines also produced 11 power-play goals, two short-handed markers, six game-winning lamplighters and accumulated a team-high 75 penalty minutes. In the 2004-05 season, he tied for 35th place in NAHL scoring by generating 47 points with 20 goals and 27 assists in 53 games. Haines currently ranks as the Bandits' second all-time leading points getter.
“Casey is a gritty, two-way player,” Daniels said. “He can play in all situations and is the type of skater which is difficult to compete against. We're hopeful Casey can continue to be a productive performer at the collegiate level like he was in juniors.”
A teammate of Haines' at Texarkana, Aaron Lewicki also skated two seasons (2004-06) for the Bandits. In 56 contests for the 2005-06 campaign, Lewicki tallied a squad-high 34 goals and chalked up 22 assists for 56 points which tied him for 27th-place honors on NAHL's top points leaders list. His 34 lamplighters represented the fourth-highest goals output in the NAHL this last season. The 6-0, 205-pound forward also scored 12 power-play goals and had 11 game-winning lamplighters, which were both team bests. He was also assessed 38 minutes in penalties for the second consecutive season. In his initial season (2004-05) at Texarkana, Lewicki racked up 37 points on 14 goals with 23 assists in 56 games. The right-handed shooter concluded the campaign tied for sixth in team goals scored and seventh in assists while his season points total ranked tied for 64th place among the league's top scorers. Lewicki notched five power-play goals and had a pair of game winners.
“Aaron has a lot of high-end potential,” Daniels said. “Given time and hard work, he could develop into a bonafide offensive threat. Aaron is a fine skater and displays good puckhandling skills. His productivity at this level will hinge upon becoming more consistent on a daily basis.”
Blair Riley, a 6-0, 215-pound forward, compiled a team-leading 81 points with a squad-best 42 goals and 39 assists in 64 contests last season while playing for the Nanaimo (British Columbia) Clippers of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). He also totaled 11 power-play markers, six short-handed goals to go with 86 minutes in penalties for Nanaimo, which compiled a 44-12 overall regular-season record and were repeat first-place performers in the BCHL's Island Division under head coach Bill Bestwick. The forward placed 18th in league scoring for the 2005-06 campaign and finished 12th in the previous season (2004-05). Riley was third among the team's 2004-05 top points leaders with 82 points, which consisted of a squad-best 47 goals with 35 helpers in 74 encounters. He posted a team-high tying 16 power-play lamplighters, one short-handed marker and compiled a squad-high 136 penalty minutes in the 2004-05 season as Nanaimo registered a 48-9 overall regular-season mark.
“Riley has a nice scoring touch and his style of play will fit well within the confines of our (Ewigleben) arena,” Daniels said. “He's regarded as a cycler and has great ability to finish. Physically, Riley is ready to step in and play as a freshman.”
Ferris State concluded the 2005-06 season at 17-15-8 overall, which included a sixth-place tying 10-11-7 record in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA). The Bulldogs graduated four players this past season – forwards Greg Rallo and Nick Scheible along with defensemen Andrew Winnik, and goaltender Tom Mueller.