Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Know Your Enemy: Ferris State

If there's one word that could be said about RPI's schedule last season, it was... brutal. Seven of the Engineers' losses came against teams who played in the Frozen Four, and we start this year's Know Your Enemy with a team responsible for two of those losses, the national runners-up, who will kick off RPI's 2012-13 schedule in October.

Ferris State
Nickname: Bulldogs
Location: Big Rapids, MI
Founded: 1884
Conference: CCHA
National Championships: 0
Last NCAA Appearance: 2012
Last Frozen Four: 2012
Coach: Bob Daniels (21st season)
2011-12 Record: 26-12-5 (16-7-5-1 CCHA, 1st place)
Series: Ferris State leads, 3-0-0
First Game: January 23, 1998 (Big Rapids, MI)
Last RPI win: None
Last FSU win: October 15, 2011 (Big Rapids, MI)

2012-13 games: October 12-13, 2012 (Troy, NY)

Key players: F Kyle Bonis, sr.; F Matthew Kirzinger, sr.; F Travis Ouellette, sr.; F Eric Alexander, sr; D Scott Czarnowczan, jr.; F Garrett Thompson, jr.; F T.J. Schlueter, so.; G C.J. Motte, so.; D Jason Binkley, so.;  F Josh Henke, fr.; D Zach Dorer, fr.

Previous KYE installment:
Last year, we mentioned that Ferris State fans would be unanimous in their assessment of the Bulldogs' greatest season. That's still true, but the answer has changed. While FSU won five fewer games last year than they did in 2003, they still managed to skate to their second CCHA regular season title, earning their first ever #1 national ranking and winning three NCAA games to post their first appearances in the Frozen Four and the national championship game. They ran into a juggernaut Boston College team that may be destined to go down in history as one of the greatest ever, but they held their own, keeping things close until late.

Interestingly, on their way to the national championship game, the Bulldogs played eight games against ECAC opponents, winning every single one of them - sweeping St. Lawrence and RPI on back to back weeks in October (outscoring them 15-3), sweeping Colgate in early January, and knocking off Cornell and Union in the NCAA tournament. Tack on FSU's sweep of St. Lawrence in 2010-11, and the Bulldogs have won 10 straight games against the ECAC, all in regulation.

Ferris was a defensive power, especially in the NCAA tournament, but they are losing some of their top defenders. Gone are senior goaltender Taylor Nelson and top defenders Brett Wysopal and Chad Billins. The cupboard is hardly bare, however - Czarnowczan's absence late in the national championship game due to injury was a huge blow, and Motte did well in his 12 freshman appearances, which included a 26-save shutout of RPI in just his second collegiate contest.

Offensively, FSU does lose their top point scorer in Jordie Johnston, but three of their top five scorers from last season return as seniors, including 19-goal scorer Bonis who notched two goals in the first game against the Engineers. Expect a very difficult opening weekend for RPI - they are not nearly as battle tested as this Bulldogs squad, which still returns many of the key components of a team that was very difficult to beat in a CCHA that could make a claim for being the toughest league in the nation last year.

This will be Ferris State's final season in the CCHA, which disbands at the end of the year. They join the new look WCHA in 2013, and could be well positioned to be one of the top teams in that league once the conference shuffle goes into effect. Barring an NCAA berth, the Bulldogs will be the final CCHA opponent that the Engineers face - they have played 10 of 11 current CCHA teams, with Northern Michigan the only one that has never played RPI.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.