The 2011-12 season schedule for the Ferris State University men's ice hockey team was unveiled and the Bulldogs will face a challenging 36 regular-season game schedule, highlighted by five opponents who finished this past campaign nationally ranked.
Along with the combined 14 outings against those five nationally-ranked foes, the Bulldogs will play 18 regular-season home contests and a season-opening exhibition tilt at FSU's Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, Mich. Ferris State will continue to play Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) teams 28 times during the regular season with 14 home and road matchups apiece.
"I think this season's schedule is an exciting one, particularly the conference contests which pose an excellent challenge for our team," said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels, who embarks on his 20th year behind the Bulldogs' bench this 2011-12 season. "The 14 games against these nationally-ranked teams (from a season ago) will help prepare us for postseason play and also be beneficial to our strength of schedule.
"I believe there will be a lot of excitement generated throughout this season as some of the nation's top-caliber teams come to our arena which will add to an already great atmosphere for both our players and fans," added Daniels, who's Ferris State's all-time winningest coach with 345 career victories to date.
Ferris State, which will begin its 34th year of NCAA Division I competition this season, will skate against six teams which concluded the 2010-11 campaign either ranked among the top 15 or receiving votes in the final USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll - Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Oct. 14-15), Miami (Oct. 21-22), at Michigan (Oct. 27-28), and versus Rochester Institute of Technology (Dec. 30) in a holiday tournament matchup. The Bulldogs take on both Western Michigan and Notre Dame four times during the regular season in home-and-home series. FSU entertains Western Michigan twice (Dec. 2 and Feb. 25) and also visits the Broncos on two occasions (Dec. 3 and Feb. 24). The Bulldogs play host to Notre Dame two times (Dec. 9 and Feb. 11) and return the favor with a pair of away encounters (Dec. 10 and Feb. 10).
Ferris State fans receive their first opportunity to view the 2011-12 squad on Sunday, Oct. 2, with an exhibition game versus the University of Toronto (Ontario) at Big Rapids, Mich. Opening faceoff between the two teams is set for 3:05 p.m. (EDT). The Bulldogs' official season opener takes place Oct. 7-8 with a two-game non-league road series against St. Lawrence in Canton, N.Y. The two schools met a season ago last Oct. 15-16 in Big Rapids with Ferris State prevailing in both games (4-2 and 3-0).
The home portion of Ferris State's schedule commences Oct. 14-15 as highly-regarded Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), coached by former Ferris State player and student assistant coach Seth Appert, makes its second appearance ever to Big Rapids and its first since the 1997-98 season. RPI concluded this past season ranked 16th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll. FSU wraps up its two-week homestand the next weekend, Oct. 21-22, going up against eighth-ranked Miami (Ohio) in what is the Bulldogs' CCHA opener.
The remainder of the 2011-12 home slate includes two-game series against Lake Superior State (Nov. 11-12), Colgate (Jan. 6-7), Alaska (Jan. 13-14), Michigan State (Jan. 27-28), Bowling Green State (Feb. 17-18) along with the two appearances on separate dates by Western Michigan and Notre Dame. This season, those teams in Ferris State's CCHA scheduling cluster include Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Alaska, and Bowling Green State.
Opening faceoff for all of FSU's 2011-12 hockey home regular-season contests is at 7:05 p.m. (ET). The starting time for selected home dates may be changed as a result of the CCHA's television broadcast schedule which will be announced in September. Fans are encouraged to frequently view Ferris State Athletics' official website at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com for the latest Bulldog Hockey schedule updates and changes.
An annual highlight of the schedule is participation in a holiday tournament. This season, Ferris State will be taking part in the 16th annual Vermont Sheraton/TD Bank Catamount Cup on Dec. 29-30 in Burlington, Vt. The Bulldogs, who appeared in the 2008-09 Catamount Cup, faceoff against host Vermont in opening-round play before squaring off against Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in the tourney's final round. The pairings for the 16th annual Sheraton/TD Banknorth Catamount Cup, which includes Lake Superior State besides Vermont and RIT, have been predetermined.
The 36-game regular season schedule consists of 18 home contests, 17 away encounters, and one neutral site outing.
"This season's schedule features a good balance of home and away contests," said Daniels. "We have eight home dates the first part of the season and then play 10 home games during the second half. The opportunity to play our rivalry partner Western Michigan at home in the regular-season finale also is a bonus for Bulldog fans."
The 2011 CCHA Tournament will commence on March 2-4 with a best-of-three first-round series with tourney seeds sixth through eight hosting seeds 9-11. The first-round winners will advance to the CCHA Quarterfinals, which take place March 9-11 with another best-of-three round series at campus sites. The top four seeds, which received first-round byes, will entertain the remaining four lower seeds who earned the right to advance after prevailing in their respective first-round series.
The 2011 Championships are slated for March 16-17 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich., commencing with the two semifinal-round matchups on Friday, March 16. The highest-remaining seed will face the lowest remaining seed and the second-highest remaining seed sqaures off against the third-highest remaining seed. The 2011 CCHA Championship Third-Place contest is set for Saturday, March 17, followed by the Mason Cup Championship game.
The Bulldogs concluded the 2010-11 season with an 18-16-5 overall and placed fifth in the final CCHA standings at 12-12-4-3 (43 league points). Ferris State was ranked among the nation's top 20 teams for the majority of the season.
Season tickets for the upcoming 2011-12 Bulldog Hockey season will go on sale in early August.
NOTE -- All dates and times are subject to change.