The Ferris State University men's ice hockey team will play 18-regular season home contests, including nine of its initial 14 games, as one of its several 2010-11 season schedule highlights as released this Friday (June 4).
Four Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) regular-season matchups against Michigan (Oct. 29-30 and Jan. 14-15), Michigan State (Nov. 23, Dec. 3-4, and Jan. 27), Ohio State (Oct. 22-23 and Feb. 25-26), and Alaska (Dec. 10-11 and Feb. 4-5) along with a holiday tournament appearance at Minnesota and a new CCHA Playoff format are among the other highlights of the Bulldogs' slate for the upcoming campaign.
The challenging 36-game regular season slate features matchups against five teams which placed among the top 15 teams in the final 2009-10 USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll. Ferris State will continue to play 28 outings in CCHA action.
"I'm thrilled about this year's schedule, it's certainly a strong one featuring some great opponents," said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels, who will start his 19th season on the Bulldogs' bench this 2010-11 season and holds the distinction of being the program's all-time winningest coach. "We're not only playing Michigan and Michigan State four times, but have big-time schools such as Notre Dame and Ohio State coming to our place. The high number of quality teams playing in our rink should be a positive for our program in terms of attendance and challenging our guys to be at the top of their game.
"The only drawback (with this season's schedule) is we have a quite a few home dates in the first half of the season. I would have preferred to have our home games evened out a little more in both the first and second halves, but we won't dwell on something that's out of our hands," added Daniels, who was a finalist for the 2009-10 CCHA Coach of the Year Award.
The Bulldogs' non-conference schedule should be equally exciting a pair of series both home and away (Oct. 7-8 and Feb. 11-12) versus independent Alabama-Huntsville along with a two-game home set against St. Lawrence (Oct. 15-16) early in the season. The series versus St. Lawrence represents the first part of a two-year agreement as the Bulldogs will play the Saints on their home ice in the 2011-12 season. FSU will once again be taking part in a highly-competitive and nationally-recognized holiday tournament as the Bulldogs venture to Minneapolis, Minn., to compete in Minnesota's 20th annual Dodge Holiday Classic (Dec. 31-Jan. 1). The pairings for the tourney have been predetermined as Ferris squares off against Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) newcomer Bemidji (Minn.) State in the tourney's opening round before closing out action versus tournament host Minnesota.
Ferris State will drop the puck on its 33rd year of NCAA Division I competition on Saturday, Oct. 2, against the Ontario Institute of Technology in a 7:05 p.m. (EDT) exhibition encounter at FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich. The season will officially start the following week with a non-league series at Alabama-Huntsville. St. Lawrence, a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), will serve as the opposition for the Bulldogs' 2010-11 home-opening series.
Opening faceoff for all of FSU's 2010-11 hockey home contests will be at 7:05 p.m. (ET). The starting time for selected home dates may be changed as a result of the television broadcast schedule which has yet to be announced. Please continually check the Ferris State Athletics website at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com for schedule updates and changes.
"We wanted to maintain consistency in our home start times so we decided to go back to the later time for Saturday contests," explained Daniels. "I'm hopeful though in the future that we will have a few five o'clock family night games."
In regards to the 2011 CCHA Playoffs, all 11 teams will be participating under a new post-season format adopted by the CCHA. The first round will be held from March 4-6 as the top five seeds will receive first-round byes. The remaining six teams will play a best-of-three series at campus sites. The No. 6 seed will host the No. 11 seed, the No. 7 seed will host the No. 10 seed, and the No. 8 seed will entertain the No. 9 seed. The first-round winners will advance to the CCHA Quarterfinals, which are to take place March 11-13 with another best-of-three round series at campus sites. The No. 2 seed will host the next highest seed to win its series in the first round. The No. 1 seed will host the lowest remaining seed.
The 2010 CCHA Championships are set for March 18-19 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich., beginning with the two semifinal-round matchups on Friday, March 18. The highest-remaining seed will face the lowest remaining seed and the second-highest remaining seed battles the third-highest remaining seed. The CCHA Championship Third-Place tilt will get underway Saturday, March 19, proceeded by the Mason Cup Championship contest.
"I like the new format and we just tweaked it (the format) slightly," said Daniels about the new league playoff format which was forced upon the CCHA following the departure of former league member Nebraska-Omaha to the WCHA this upcoming 2010-11 season. "The league did the best they could in trying to keep a similiar format to what we had in previous seasons."
Ferris State will enter this upcoming campaign with high aspirations after concluding the 2009-10 season with a 21-13-6 overall record and a third-place 13-9-6-4 mark (49 league points) in the CCHA standings. The 21 victories marked a tie for the fourth most in a single season for the Bulldogs. FSU also wrapped up the season ranked among the top 15 teams in all three national collegiate hockey polls.
Season tickets for the 2010-11 Bulldog Hockey season will go on sale in early August.
NOTE -- All dates and times are subject to change.