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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Ferris State officially signs talented trio

Three might be a crowd to most, but not for Ferris State University as the Bulldogs have added more quantity and quality with the signing of three talented student-athletes to NCAA National Letters of Intent to play and attend FSU, starting with the 2007-08 season.

The newest arrivals to the Ferris State program are left wing Mike Embach, center Justin Menke and goaltender Pat Nagle (Bloomfield).

Ferris State hockey's recruiting class has increased to seven with the recent signing of three more student-athletes.

"These three guys are a nice compliment to the group we assembled during the early-signing period," said FSU head coach Bob Daniels, who will embark on his 16th year at Ferris State this upcoming 2007-08 season and holds the distinction of being the Bulldogs' all-time winningest coach. "The two forwards bring added speed and depth to the lineup while the goaltender (Pat) Nagle should challenge for playing time right away."

Embach started the 2006-07 season playing for the United States Hockey League's Chicago Steel before being dealt to the Indiana Ice in early February. In his second year at Chicago last season, Embach netted 20 points with eight goals and 12 assists to go along with two game-winning markers in 36 contests. The forward competed in 18 games for Indiana while producing seven points with a goal and six assists as the Ice were among the final four teams vying for the USHL's Clark Cup as league playoff champion.

"Mike is a tenacious, hard-working kid," said FSU associate head coach Drew Famulak, who serves as the program's recruiting coordinator. "He displays good quickness and is a physical player, who can also has the versatility to play both wing positions."

Menke registered a team-leading 64 points on 24 goals with 40 assists in 58 games for the Yorkton Terriers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in the 2006-07 season. Menke placed seventh among the final 2006-07 SJHL leaders in points while ranking sixth and 19th in assists and goals, respectively. The 2006-07 team captain was the winner of both the Terriers' Top Scorer Award and Dedication & Serves Community Award. Menke, who has spent the last three seasons with Yorkton, was a 2006-07 co-honoree of the Coach's Award and was tabbed the third star of the team's Three Star Award. Menke wrapped up the regular-season campaign with eight lamplighters and two helpers in six outings en route to being chosen as the SJHL Player of the Month for February 2007. In December 2006, Menke was selected as the Yorkton Terriers' recipient of the Credit Union MasterCard Community Leadership Award.

"Justin is a dynamic skater and offensive talented," Famulak said. "He's a fine playmaker from the middle of the ice in and is good offensively on the rush. He possesses an accurate shot and has also shown the ability to run a power play from the blue line."

Nagle spent the 2006-07 season playing for the North American Hockey League's St. Louis Bandits, who were crowned league champions by virtue of winning the Robertson Cup championship. The 2006-07 NAHL Rookie of the Year compiled a 24-8-4 record to go with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in 2,136 minutes of playing time during his 36 appearances for the Bandits. Nagle, who earned a spot on the 2006-07 All-NAHL Second Team, along with future Bulldog Pat Maroon was named to the 2007 NAHL All-Tournament Team. Nagle's goals-against average this past season was second best among the final NAHL statistical leaders while his saves percentage tied for fifth best. His lone shutout of the 2006-07 campaign came in 2-0 win at Springfield on Jan. 12 in which he pitched a 24-save performance. Nagle was honored as the NAHL's South Division Player of the Week a season ago on two occasions -- Nov. 6 and Jan. 15. In the midget ranks, he played an instrumental role in leading Belle Tire to consecutive championship titles (2004-05 and 2005-06).

"We expect Pat to come in and split time in goal to start the year," said Famulak. "He's a butterfly-style goaltender whose glove work is solid and his ability to handle the puck is above average. Pat is competitive around the crease area and shows good ability in manuevering through traffic areas."

The trio join four others who inked with Ferris State during last November's early-signing period. Left wing Pat Maroon, right wing Todd Pococke (Saginaw), defenseman Zach Redmond (Traverse City) and defenseman Scott Wietecha (Wolverine Lake) were the Bulldogs' early committments.

"As a whole, we have a number of players who I believe are ready to step in and be immediate contributors," said Daniels. "We addressed our needs and touched on all phases of the game. This recruiting class has a great combination of size and skill."

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