"Countdown To Faceoff": The Goaltenders
The puck stops here!
That's the mindset for the Ferris State goaltending unit.
Ferris State's last line of defense has the potential to not only be one the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's (CCHA) best, but equally so on a national scale due to the return of senior Pat Nagle (Bloomfield) and junior Taylor Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan).
With the return of the Bulldogs' "dynamic duo" if you will, goaltending may very well be Ferris State's strongest, if not most competitive position this 2010-11 season.
"We're fortunate to have two of the top goalies in the CCHA," said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels. "I'm sure a lot of programs are jealous of our goaltending situation.
"It's a healthy competition between the two and I have complete confidence in both. With that said, both we go head-to-head and if one clearly outperforms the other then it's his job to lose," added Daniels.
Pat Nagle is the incumbent between the posts as the backstopper started in 24 of 26 appearances last season while registering a 12-10-3 record to go along with a 2.13 goals-against average (53 allowed) and a .923 saves percentage (636 total) in just over 1,496 minutes of action. Nagle, who turned aside 30 or more shots in a game six times a season ago, completed the 2009-10 campaign ranking sixth nationally in save percentage (.923), ninth in goals-against average (2.13), and 28th in goalie winning percentage (.540) for the nation's sixth-best scoring defensive team. He received CCHA Reebok Goaltender of the Week accolades on one occasion (Dec. 14) and also tallied votes to almost land a spot on the All-MichiganCollegeHockey.com's (MiCHO) Second Team a season ago.
Nagle will enter his senior season already ranking among the program's all-time leaders in several statistical categories. The 6-3, 185-pound netminder is listed second in goals-against average (2.49), third in saves percentage (.913), ninth in minutes played (3,608), tied for ninth in appearances (64), tied for 10th in victories (27), and 11th in saves (1,566). Nagle also has displayed his offensive abilities with six career assists to his credit, which includes three helpers from this past season.
Like Nagle, Taylor Nelson is also a quality goalie with considerable game experience under his belt. Nelson went 9-3-3 with a 2.49 goals-against average (38 allowed) and a .915 saves percentage (411 saves) in 914 minutes of playing time. A starter in 15 of his 16 appearances a season ago, the 6-1, 177-pound netminder was fifth in goalie winning percentage (.700), 20th in saves percentage (.915), and 21st in goals-against average (2.47) among the final 2009-10 national statistical leaders. Nelson, who was afforded CCHA Reebok Goaltender of the Week honors (Dec. 7) this past season, garnered at least 25 stops on 10 occasions in 2009-10.
Through two seasons as a Bulldog, Nelson currently ranks sixth in goals-against average (2.50), seventh in saves percentage (.914), 17th in victories (14), and 18th in saves (868) among FSU's top career goaltenders.
Freshman Rob Granett (Clarkston) will be donning the mask as a backup to Nagle and Nelson. The 6-2, 182-pound netminder turned in a 20-3-0 record in 24 outings for the 2009-10 campaign as a member of the Northern Pacific Junior Hockey League's Yellowstone Quake.
"I'm anticipating us to struggle with goal scoring the beginning of the season so it's imperative for us to get solid goaltending and we're fortunate our two primary goalies will allow us to get our offensive house in order," said Daniels.
Next Installment: "The Countdown To Faceoff" series continues this Thursday (Sept. 30) with analysis of the forwards.