By Tom Morelli/Ferris State Beat Writer
FERRIS STATE BULLDOGS
Head coach: Bob Daniels (19th season)
Home arena: Ewigleben Ice Arena (2,493)
Last season: 21-13-6 overall, 13-9-6-4 CCHA (3rd), lost CCHA Semi-Final to Miami
Returning for the Bulldogs:
Goaltenders: Pat Nagle and Taylor Nelson
Defensemen: Chad Billins, Tommy Hill, Zach Redmond, Aaron Schmit, Michael Trebish, Brett Wysopal, and Scott Wietecha
Forwards: Eric Alexander, Kyle Bonis, Mike Embach, Mike Fillinger, Derek Graham, Nate Hennig, Jordie Johnston, Matthew Kirzinger, Justin Menke, Travis Ouellette, and Todd Pococke
No longer sporting the Crimson & Gold:
Goaltender: Jordan Barber
Defenseman: Matt Case
Forwards: Cody Chupp, Casey Haines, Aaron Lewicki, and Blair Riley
New to Big Rapids:
Goaltender: Rob Granett (sophomore)
Defenseman: Scott Czarnowczan
Forwards: Justin DeMartino, Andy Huff, Cory Kane, and Garrett Thompson
NHL draft picks: 1 (Redmond)
Outlook: In their best season since the CCHA Championship squad of 2002-2003, Ferris State surprised many teams after their 13-3-2-2 start. The Bulldogs appeared to be a lock for the Frozen Four, but struggled down the stretch with losses to six different teams and a pair of ties against last-place Western Michigan.
Head Coach Bob Daniels will have to find some firepower, having lost four of his top five scorers to graduation. Senior Mike Embach is Ferris State’s top returning forward (9g-11a-20p), followed by senior Justin Menke (8-10-18). Right wing Matthew Kirzinger had the best performance of any Bulldogs’ freshman last season, having scored nine goals and five assists.
Senior Zach Redmond had a team-high 21 assists in 2009-2010, and will be looked to once again to lead a veteran blueline. In his first season since transferring from Colorado College, junior defenseman Brett Wysopal put up some respectable numbers, finishing with three goals and 15 assists.
Ferris State will have a one-two-punch between the pipes, with senior Pat Nagle leading the way. In 26 games last season, Nagle compiled a 2.13 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage. Backing him up is junior Taylor Nelson, whom had a 2.49 GAA to go along with his .915 save percentage and four shutouts in 16 appearances.
Amongst the newcomers, Garrett Thompson appears to have the most promise. In his third season with the Traverse City North Stars (NAHL), the 6-foot-2, 191 pounds forward notched career highs with 24 goals and 26 assists in 57 games. Thompson won’t be the only North Star on the roster this year, as he’ll be joined by forward Andy Huff (22-15-37).
With the CCHA down to 11 teams this season, the Bulldogs will play two series’ against all of their opponents, except Miami, Notre Dame and Western Michigan. Ferris State takes a break from their conference schedule when they travel to Minneapolis to take part in the 20th Annual Dodge Holiday Classic on Dec. 31 against Bemidji State, followed by a bout with Minnesota the following night.
The Bulldogs have an exhibition against the Ontario Institute of Technology on Oct. 2, before opening the season on the road with a weekend series against Alabama-Huntsville on Oct. 7-8.