Ferris State enters its final season in the CCHA on the heels of its first ever trip to the Frozen Four.
Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels.
Big Rapids, Mich. (WZZM) -- What can they do for an encore? The Ferris State Bulldogs will be hard pressed to top their achievements of the 2011-2012 men's ice hockey season. The Bulldogs collected their first-ever number one national ranking, won the CCHA regular season title, and advanced to the Frozen Four and national championship game for the first time ever. The season ended with a loss to Boston College in the championship.
"We did it our way," says senior captain Kyle Bonis. "Everyone said the way we played was too defensive and we didn't have the scoring up front to go all the way to the national championship and keep up with a team like Boston College. We didn't change how we played and it carried us all the way there and we were right there with a chance to win it."
Now, Bonis leads a strong group of forwards that will be asked to carry the load as inexperienced defenders try to protect new goalie sophomore C.J. Motte. The Bulldogs are ranked eleventh in the nation in the USA Today college hockey rankings. But head coach Bob Daniels downplayed that Tuesday. "I've always felt the early season rankings are more a reflection of your previous season and for us, it's great. I'm glad that we're ranked up there but we know as a team we haven't earned that ranking. It was last year's team that earned that ranking so for us, we want to validate that ranking. But a year ago, we were picked ninth preseason in the CCHA. We don't put a lot into the polls."
The reputation of the Ferris State hockey program got a major shot in the arm with the national championship appearance. Senior right winger Eric Alexander from Kentwood said things are a lot different now than when he first arrived on campus. "Most people didn't even know where Ferris State was until last year. It's definitely something special to see coming from such a small school compared to Michigan and Minnesota."
Ferris State opens the season this weekend with road games against RPI in Troy, New York and then returns to Big Rapids for the home opener October 19th against Mercyhurst of Pennsylvania. The Frozen Four banner will be unveiled that night. "It will be one more moment to reflect," says Daniels. "Not only for the players but for the fans to reflect on the season that we had and I think that's important. As a coach, certainly I'm worried about that game but we have to take a moment and honor the team from the year before."