A 18-game slate in the Ewigleben Ice Arena, an appearance in the reputable Wisconsin Badger Hockey Showdown, and another highly-competitive season of Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) action highlight the 2009-10 Ferris State University men's ice hockey schedule as announced by Bulldog head coach Bob Daniels.
The challenging 36-game schedule features matchups against four opponents who were either ranked or received votes in the final 2008-09 USA Today/American Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll.
"This season's schedule features a number of quality opponents," said Daniels, who embarks on his 18th year at Ferris State in the 2009-10 season and is the program's all-time winningest coach. "I'm excited to begin the season with six non-conference games which allows us opportunities to get considerable ice time for a lot of different players and also experiment with various line combinations.
"We're also thrilled to be invited back to the Wisconsin Badger Hockey Showdown Tournament and hope to win their tournament title for the third straight time," added Daniels.
The appearance by Ferris State at the 21st annual Badger Hockey Showdown Tournament (Jan. 2-3) will represent the program's third as the Bulldogs captured back-to-back Showdown Tourney titles in 2003 and 2004. FSU opens the holiday tournament against 2008-09 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC)champion Yale on Jan. 2 in the opening semifinal tilt while host Wisconsin tangles with Merrimack in the other semifinal-round outing. The third-place and championship games will be held Jan. 3 with Wisconsin skating in the late encounter regardless of its semifinal-game outcome.
Ferris State will drop the puck on its 32nd year of varsity competition on Sunday, Oct. 4, with a home exhibition contest against Wilfred Laurier (Ontario) at FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich. Opening faceoff is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. (EDT). The following weekend (Oct. 9-10), the Bulldogs officially start the 2009-10 regular-season with a two-game non-league series versus Canisius in Buffalo, N.Y. The two teams faced off a season ago in Big Rapids for a two-game set in what represented the first-ever meetings between the two schools. FSU then returns home the next two weekends, starting Oct. 16-17 with its home-opening series against Connecticut followed by a pair of encounters versus Robert Morris on Oct. 23-24. As with Canisius a season ago, Robert Morris will be making its debut on the Bulldogs' ice this campaign.
Ferris State will travel to Fairbanks, Alaska to open its 28-game Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) schedule on Oct. 30-31 against Alaska and then return home to face Bowling Green State Nov. 6-7 in its league home opener. The remaining CCHA home dates for the Bulldogs include Ohio State (Nov. 20-21), Nebraska-Omaha (Dec. 4-5), Western Michigan (Dec. 12 and Feb. 26), Miami (Jan. 15-16), Michigan (Jan. 23), Northern Michigan (Feb. 5-6), and Michigan State (Feb. 19).
"I anticipate the CCHA games will be exciting and highly competitive," said Daniels. "This is perhaps going to be the strongest year we've had from top to bottom. There are a number of nationally top 10-caliber teams in our league which will require us to play at a consistently high level for us to achieve success." The CCHA competition cluster schedule format for this season has Ferris State paired with Miami (Ohio) and Ohio State. As a result, Ferris will play each of those teams four times with a pair of games at home and on the road. The Bulldogs will continue to face Western Michigan four times on an annual basis as the Broncos are FSU's "rivalry pairing" opponent as part of the cluster scheduling format which was implemented prior to the 2002-03 season.
The first round of the CCHA Playoffs will commence Mar. 5-7 at campus sites with tourney seeds 5-8 hosting. The top four seeds each receive a opening-round bye. The CCHA Playoff Quarterfinals will be conducted from Mar. 12-14 at campus sites and those four teams who claim the best two-of-three series will advance to the 2009 CCHA Championships (Mar. 19-20) at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich.
Game start times for all 2009-10 Ferris State hockey home contests will be 7:05 p.m. (ET) on Fridays and 5:05 p.m. (EDT) for Saturday matchups.
"We started experimenting with the early start times three years ago and it has been well received by our fans," noted Daniels. "Moreover, we're starting to see other CCHA teams go to an early start as well based on what we were doing and it has been embraced in a positive way."
All game dates and times are subject to change as a result of the television broadcast schedule for the 2009-10 season yet to be announced. Please check the Ferris State Athletics website at www.ferris.edu/sports for updates and changes.
A highlight for all Ferris State home games this upcoming season will be a substancial amount of in-game promotions for the community, students, and university academic employees. Promotions ranging from the Bulldog Bites Food Expo to Veteran's & Active Duty Night along with the annual Teddy Bear Toss are just a few of the exciting events scheduled. A local restaurant discount will also be offered for every Saturday contest for those fans who show a game ticket stub. Greater crowd involvement, better music, and more giveaways are in store for those fans attending future Bulldog hockey contests.
"While Ferris State hockey is exciting to watch in itself, we're striving to enhance the experience for our fans and make it more than just a game," stated Ferris State Associate Athletics Director Jon Coles. "In these difficult economic times, we're trying to do everything we can to make the games more affordable and provide multiple discounted nights."