Living the dream.
For the second time in his professional career, former Ferris State University standout Chris Kunitz is appearing on the national stage with aspirations of winning the National Hockey League's (NHL) Stanley Cup as a 2008-09 member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Kunitz and the Penguins are squaring off against the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings in a best-of-seven 2009 Stanley Cup Final series, which began last weekend with a pair of Detroit victories. Pittsburgh has advanced to the finals for the second straight season after winning the Prince of Wales Trophy as the NHL's Eastern Conference Champions with a 4-0 series sweep over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Kunitz, who has presently tallied a career-best 12 post-season points with a goal and 11 assists in 19 playoff games this season for Pittsburgh, is hopeful his second appearance in the NHL Finals is just as rewarding as the first time. Just two years ago, Kunitz was an integral component in leading the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks to their first-ever Lord Stanley's Cup with a 4-1 series victory against the Ottawa Senators.
The treasured opportunity for Kunitz this spring wouldn't have been possible if not for a transaction between Anaheim and Pittsburgh on Feb. 26. Kunitz along with a prospect were shipped off to Pittsburgh in exchange for Ryan Whitney six days prior to the NHL trade deadline.
Now Ferris State's most decorated skater is one series away from putting another Stanley Cup ring on his finger.
This season has been a productive one for the Kunitz, who registered 23 goals and 30 assists for 53 points in a combined 82 regular-season outings with Anaheim and Pittsburgh. The Regina, Saskatchewan native also generated a point in 12 of his 20 regular-season contests with Pittsburgh.
The 6-0, 193-pound left wing spent parts of five seasons (2003-04; 2005-present) with the Anaheim Ducks before his trade to Pittsburgh.
As a collegian at Ferris State, Kunitz excelled during his 2002-03 senior season by garnering American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) All-America First-Team honors and was among the final three 2003 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey's top player. A two-time (2001-02 and 2002-03) Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) First-Team pick, Kunitz became the first Bulldog skater to earn CCHA Player of the Year honors after leading the league in points, goals, assists, and plus/minus for the 2002-03 campaign.
Kunitz concluded his stellar career ranking tied for sixth in career points (175), second in goals (99) and 18th in assists (76) in 152 contests. He played an integral role in leading the 2002-03 Bulldogs to a school-best 31-10-1 overall record, the school's first-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship title and the program's first-ever NCAA Division I Championship Tournament appearance. Kunitz was also recognized as the male student-athlete recipient of the 2002-03 Bulldog of the Year Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding Ferris State student-athlete.
2009 STANLEY CUP FINALS SERIES SCHEDULE
Saturday, May 30 at Detroit, 8 pm -- NBC, CBC, RDS
Sunday, May 31 at Detroit, TBD-Evening -- NBC, CBC, RDS
Tuesday, June 2 at Pittsburgh, 8 pm -- VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Thursday, June 4 at Pittsburgh, 8 pm -- VERSUS, CBC, RDS
* Saturday, June 6 at Detroit, 8 pm -- NBC, CBC, RDS
* Tuesday, June 9 at Pittsburgh, 8 pm -- NBC, CBC, RDS
* Friday, June 12 at Detroit, 8:00 pm -- NBC, CBC, RDS
* denotes if necessary
All start times are Eastern Daylight (EDT)