The future for the Ferris State University men's ice hockey program could be a promising one as the Bulldogs have secured the services of another four newcomers to its 2011 recruiting class.
Defensemen Jason Binkley (Powell, Ohio) and Travis White (Sterling Heights) along with forwards Nate Milam (Westland) and TJ Schlueter (St. Louis, Mo.) have all committed to attend FSU and play for the Bulldogs starting with the 2011-12 season in an announcement made this Thursday (April 14) by head coach Bob Daniels.
"Overall, this class has a high skills set which through our off-ice conditioning program under the direction of Dave Cencer will enable these skills to produce offense throughout their careers," said Daniels, who's Ferris State's all-time winningest coach and recently completed his 19th season behind the Bulldog bench.
* Jason Binkley (5-9, 191; 6/13/92) skated this 2010-11 season with the Tri-City Storm (Kearney, Neb.) of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Binkley compiled 14 points on four goals with 10 assists in 56 contests this season which ranked second most among the team's defensemen. A right-handed shot, Binkley was drafted by the Storm in the 2009 USHL Entry Draft (144th overall pick). Two of his Tri-City teammates, Simon Denis and Dominic Panetta committed to Ferris State in November 2010. Prior to his one-season stint at Tri-City under head coach/general manager Drew Schoneck, Binkley skated for the Eastern Junior Hockey League's (EJHL) Jersey Hitmen in 2009-10 and accumulated 10 goals with 27 assists for 37 points and 54 penalty minutes in 42 outings.
"Jason has good offensive instincts both even strength and on the power play," said FSU associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Drew Famulak. "He's adept at picking his spots to join the rush offensively.
* Nate Milam (6-0, 170; 7/8/90) has spent the last two seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11) with the Topeka (Kan.) RoadRunners of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). In 58 regular-season games this campaign, Milam generated a team fourth-most 52 points on a squad third-best 23 goals and 29 assists while tallying a team-leading and franchise-record six short-handed lamplighters, five game-winning goals, and three power-play markers. His 52 points this 2010-11 season tied for 33rd place among the NAHL's overall scoring leaders overall and ranked in a 32nd-place tie for the league's top offensive forwards. This season, Milam has tallied seven points with four goals and three helpers in five league playoff contests for Topeka, which claimed the NAHL South Division Regular-Season title with a 43-12-3 record (89 league points) and is presently competing in the divisional finals of the NAHL Robertson Cup Playoffs. Milam, a right-handed shot, earned SBK/NAHL South Division Player of the Week plaudits earlier this campaign (March 7) while skating for head coach Scott Langer's club. He participated in the 2011 Top Prospects Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. and scored a goal in each of the tourney's three games. A season ago, Milam posted 18 goals and 10 assists for a team 11th-place tying 28 points in 54 regular-season encounters. The NAHL South Division Player of the Week (Oct. 12) also scored four power-play lamplighters and game-winning markers apiece. Milam skated for Belle Tire of the Midget Majors in 2008-09 and racked up 33 points as a result of 24 goals with nine assists in 45 games.
"Nate is a very mobile forward who has the ability to create offense both in five-on-five situations and also on the penalty kill," Famulak said of Milam, who's no relation to former Bulldog standout Troy Milam (1999-03). "He possesses a quick release and accurate wrist shot."
* TJ Schlueter (6-0, 194; 10/23/91) competed for the United States Hockey League's (USHL) Dubuque (Iowa) Fighting Saints this 2010-11 season. The forward recorded a team sixth-best tying 28 points with 17 goals and 11 assists in 54 contests this campaign to go along with five power-play goals, three game-winners, and a plus four efficiency rating. Among the USHL's top points producers this season, Schlueter tied for 82nd place overall and was listed in a 70th-place tie for top-scoring forwards. Dubuque, which turned in a first-place 37-14-9 (83 league points) in the USHL's West Division under head coach-general manager Jim Montgomery this season, earned a first-round bye in the USHL Playoffs. A right-handed shot, Schlueter came to Dubuque after spending the 2009-10 campaign playing for the Tri-City Storm.
"A big, strong physical player, T.J. has a very good presence in front of the net," said Famulak. "He has the ability to create offense by using his body below the tops of the circles."
* Travis White (5-9, 180; 3/9/90) recently completed his third season with the Traverse City (Mich.) North Stars of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). White skated for the North Stars under head coach Anthony Palumbo in the 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11 seasons after playing for the NAHL's St. Louis Bandits in the 2007-08 campaign. White enjoyed his most productive season in a North Stars' jersey this season with a career season-high and squad fifth-most 40 points on eight goals and a team second-best 32 assists in 56 games. White, who ranks seventh among this season's NAHL top scoring defensemen and tied for 88th overall this season to date, also netted two game-winning and power-play tallies apiece while finishing with a plus six efficiency rating as the North Stars posted a second-place 40-17-1 North Division regular-season performance. White compiled a team 14th-place tying 16 points on a goal and 15 assists with a plus 23 efficiency rating in 45 2009-10 season outings and concluded his first season at Traverse City in 2008-09 by racking up 17 points with four goals and 13 helpers in 57 encounters. He garnered nine points on a goal with eight assists in 47 games for the 2007-08 campaign while skating with the St. Louis Bandits. White will be reunited with former North Star teammates Andy Huff, Garrett Thompson, and Kyle Bonis at Ferris State.
"Travis is an outstanding shot blocker and is a productive performer on the penalty kill," said Famulak. "He has good playmaking skills, particularly at making a good first pass on the breakout."
The four will join forwards Dominic Panetta (Baldwin) and Justin Buzzeo (Windsor, Ontario), defenseman Simon Denis (Burnaby, British Columbia), and goaltender C.J. Motte (St. Clair), who all inked with the Bulldogs during the November early-signing period.
"This group possesses the passion to succeed not only on the ice but in the classroom due to their committment and work ethic," said Daniels.
Ferris State concluded the 2010-11 season with an 18-16-5 overall and placed fifth in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) at 12-12-4-3 (43 league points). The 18 victories represented a tie for the eighth-most single-season wins in the program's history. The Bulldogs also had two individuals, seniors Pat Nagle (Bloomfield) and Zach Redmond (Traverse City) attain American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) All-America recognition for the 2010-11 campaign.