Hockey Notes: #1 FSU vs. Western Michigan

FERRIS STATE HOCKEY NOTES:

vs. Western Michigan
Friday (Feb. 24) – 7:05 p.m. (EDT)
Lawson Ice Arena, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Saturday (Feb. 25) – 7:05 p.m. (EDT)
Ewigleben Ice Arena, Big Rapids, Mich.

Game Day Central 
(Includes media coverage links)

The Opening Faceoff:  The nationally top-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team will look to extend its 14-game unbeaten streak this weekend as the Bulldogs faceoff against the Western Michigan Broncos in a two-game Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) home-and-home series. The action gets underway this Friday (Feb. 24) at the Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamzoo before concluding on Saturday (Feb. 25) at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids. The two-game league set between the schools marks the second series between the two teams during the 2011-12 campaign. Both games start at 7:05 p.m. (ET).

Live TV Broadcast:  Friday's contest in Kalamazoo will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Detroit and the broadcast will be carried live nationally on Fox College Sports Atlantic. 

Send Off Rally:  The Ferris State University Athletics Department is inviting fans to come help "send off" the nationally top-ranked Bulldog men's ice hockey squad this Friday (Feb. 24) as they travel to Kalamazoo to face Western Michigan. The team bus will depart from the northwest side of the Ewigleben Sports Complex lot near the Bulldog Hockey Locker Room area.  The send off rally will run from 2:45 to approximately 3:15 p.m. (ET) when FSU departs for WMU's Lawson Ice Arena.  All Bulldog fans and alumni are encouraged to attend and show their support. 

What To Wear:  Bulldog fans traveling to Kalamazoo are encouraged to wear red on Friday night.  Saturday's home contest will be a whiteout with all FSU students and fans asked to wear white. 

CCHA Playoffs:  The Bulldogs have clinched a bye for the first round of the upcoming CCHA Tournament and will host a second-round playoff best-of-three series March 9-11 in Big Rapids.  Ticket information will be available soon and fans are encouraged to check the FSU Athletics Website at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com for updated information as it becomes available. 

Ticket Information: Saturday's home finale against Western Michigan is SOLD OUT.  Tickets for the CCHA Playoff second-round series March 9-11 go on sale this Thursday (Feb. 23) morning at 9 a.m. (ET).  Please click here for additional ticket information.

Media Coverage: A live video and audio webcast will be available for all 2011-12 FSU men's ice hockey home games through Stretch Internet for a charge of $7.95 on FSU's Athletics Website at www. FerrisStateBulldogs.com. Live internet statistics will also be available for all Bulldog home contests with a live audio stream for all home and away games.

Senior Night: This Saturday is "Senior Night" and all eight seniors will be honored prior to the game. Forwards Derek Graham (Schoolcraft), Tommy Hill (Portage), Jordie Johnston (Rosetown, Saskatchewan), Michael Trebish (Yorkton, Saskatchewan) and Aaron Schmit (Grafton, Wis.), defensemen Chad Billins (Marysville) and Brett Wysopal (LeGrange, Ill.) along with goaltender Taylor Nelson (Regina, Sasakatchean) will be recognized in the annual pre-game ceremony.

Conference Champs: Over the weekend, the Bulldogs secured at least a share of the CCHA Regular Season Championship. The Bulldogs lead second place Michigan by six points heading into the week and need to gain one more point on the Wolverines to win the outright crown. The conference championship is the first for the Bulldogs since the 2002-03 season when Ferris State was crowned as CCHA Champions and earned the program's first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament bid.

The Records: Ferris State is presently 22-8-4 overall and 17-6-4-(1) in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) this season. After a weekend sweep of Bowling Green State, the Bulldogs have clinched at least a share of the CCHA regular season championship. The Bulldogs have 53 points in the conference and lead second place Michigan by six points overall. In Friday's contest, the Bulldogs skated to a 5-1 victory before finishing off the sweep on Saturday with a 4-1 win.

Western Michigan currently holds a 16-13-5 overall record and a 13-10-3 record in the CCHA. The Broncos currently sit at third place in the CCHA with 45 points. This past weekend, the Broncos split a weekend road series with Lake Superior State. WMU won Friday's contest 3-1 before falling to a 3-2 decision on Saturday.

The Coaches: Ferris State - Bob Daniels (Michigan State, 1982), 20th season, 330-357-78 (.429) . Daniels has the distinction of being the all-time winningest coach in Ferris State history. He was honored as the 2002-03 CCHA Coach of the Year and the Inside College Hockey (INCH) Coach of the Year, but the crowing highlight of his coaching career was being chosen as the recipient of the 2003 Spencer Penrose Award as the ACHA's Division I National Hockey Coach of the Year. He was among three finalists for both the 2007-08 and 2009-10 CCHA Coach of the Year Awards.

Western Michigan - Andy Murray  (Brandon University, 1972), 1st season, 16-13-5 (.54) -  Andy Murray was announced as the sixth head coach in the history of the Western Michigan men's ice hockey program on July 26, 2011. Murray came to WMU with an extensive resume earned at the highest level of professional hockey. He is one of only 39 coaches in NHL history to reach 300 wins with a career record of 333-278-58-71. Murray has 10 years of NHL head coaching experience, spending six seasons at the helm of the Los Angeles Kings and four with the St. Louis Blues. Murray is the Kings' All-Time franchise leader in wins with 215 and led Los Angeles to three 90-point seasons in his tenure. During the 2008-09 season with St. Louis, he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Coach of the Year Award after guiding the Blues to a third place finish in the Central Division.  

The Opponent: Western Michigan has compiled a 6-8-0 record in the New Year. WMU has not won a Saturday night game in the last five outings. Sophomore forward Chase Balisy, a Nashville Predators prospect, leads the squad with points on 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points. Behind him is sophomore forward Shane Berschbach, who has compiled a 8-20-28 scoring line in 30 games played. Junior Matt Tennyson leads the defense with nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points. Freshman goalie Frank Slubowski has spent the majority of the season between the pipes with 25 games. He has compiled a 12-10-3 record with a .904 save percentage. He has a 2.16 goals against average, allowing 54 goals on 560 shots.

The All-Time Series:  Ferris State holds a 51-70-11 all-time series record against Western Michigan. This includes a 30-26-6 home advantage and a 20-40-5 road mark. Earlier this season (Dec. 2-3), the Bulldogs were swept by the Broncos in a home-and-home series. In Friday's contest, the Bulldogs lost 4-2 at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids, which marks FSU's lone home loss this campaign. On Saturday, Ferris State was shutout in a 3-0 loss in Kalamazoo, Mich.

National Rankings:  For the second week in a row, the Bulldogs are ranked as the number one team in the country by all three national polls. On Monday, the U.S. College Hockey Online (USCHO), USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll and the Inside College Hockey.com (INCH) poll each announced Ferris State as their number one team.

Ferris State is only the 19th team to hold the top-ranked spot in the USCHO.com poll since its inception in the 1997-98 season. It marks the highest-ranking ever for the Bulldog hockey program in the poll.  The historic 2002-03 Bulldog hockey team, which registered a school-record 31-10-1 overall mark and the program's first-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship and NCAA Tournament berth, earned a then program-best fourth place national ranking by USCHO late in that memorable season on March 10, 2003. 

The USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll again recognized the Bulldogs with 28 first place votes. The USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll is conducted on a weekly basis in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the AHCA and USA Hockey Magazine, the most widely distributed hockey magazine in the world. The first-place ranking is the highest the Bulldogs have been in the poll in the program's history as the previous best of fourth also came in 2002-03.

FSU also stayed in the top spot of the Inside College Hockey.com poll this week. Inside College Hockey.com's Poll is generated through Inside College Hockey editors and staff.  FSU was previously ranked second in the INCH poll in 2002-03.

PairWise Ranking: Ferris State is currently at the fourth spot in the PairWise Rankings. The Bulldogs currently have a 28 PairWise Ranking (PWR). The PairWise ranking is a system which attempts to mimic the method used by the NCAA Selection Committee to determine participants for the NCAA Division I Tournament. Therefore, if the tournament were to start tomorrow, the Bulldogs would be the fourth-seeded team among the 16 selected teams that make the field. They are right behind Michigan and Massachusetts-Lowell, who are tied for second with a 29 PWR. Boston College holds the top spot with a 31 PWR.

The Goaltending: Senior goaltender Taylor Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) has compiled a 17-4-2 record and is ranked eighth among NCAA Division I Goaltending Leaders. He has 48 goals against and has a 2.07 goals against average and is tied for 12th with a .925 save percentage. Freshman goaltender CJ Motte (St. Claire) has compiled a 5-4-2 record. He has allowed only 22 goals, with a 1.97 goals against average, in 10 games played. Motte has tallied two shutouts.

The Defense: Ferris State is currently ranked fourth in NCAA Division I Team Defense, allowing only 2.12 goals per game. Senior defenseman Chad Billins (Marysville) leads the defense and is tied for second in scoring among the team with 28 points coming from seven goals and 21 assists. Sophomore Scott Czarnowczan has two goals and fifteen assists from the blueline. The defensive pair is on a hot streak with Billins tallying at least a point in each of the last 11 games. Czarnowczan has tallied one point in each of the last seven games.

Last Weekend: The Bulldogs are on a current 14-game unbeaten streak and have not lost in the New Year with an 11-0-3 ledger. It is the longest current streak in Division I college hockey.

Ferris State clinched at least a share of the CCHA regular-season title for the first time since the 2002-03 season when the Bulldogs were crowned conference champions and eared their first-ever NCAA Division I Tournament bid.

Five different Bulldogs scored in last Friday's 5-1 victory over Bowling Green State. Matthew Kirzinger, Garrett Thompson, TJ Schlueter, Cory Kane and Aaron Schmit each tallied goals in the win.

Saturday's 4-1 win also saw four different goal scorers, all of who scored the night before. Kirzinger, Kane, Schmit and Schlueter scored the Bulldogs goals.

All We Do Is Win: The Bulldogs are the first team in the nation in the 2011-12 season to reach 22 wins. They also own the longest current unbeaten streak as they have went 14 games without a loss. They are 11-0-3 in the New Year.

The Bulldogs' 14-game unbeaten streak is the second-longest streak in program history. FSU had a school-best 15-game unbeaten streak (12-0-3) in the 1990-91 campaign.

Goals, Goals, Goals: The Bulldogs have compiled 53 goals in their 14-game unbeaten streak. Fourteen separate goal scorers have tallied the lamp-lighters. The second line accounts for 35.8% of the goals as they have tallied 19 overall. However, goals are being scored by every line. The top line has tallied 13 goals. The third and fourth line have contributed a total of 14 tallies. The blue line has chipped in for seven goals.

Nineteen goals have been scored on the power-play. Twenty-two goals have been scored in the third period while 13 have been scored in the first period and 18 in the second.

Top Billin': In the last nine games, Chad Billins has tallied at least a point in each contest with four two-point performances. He has racked up six goals and nine assists since his point-streak started on Jan. 14 against Alaska. In that time, he has scored four power-play goals and two game-winners.  He has averaged 1.36 points per game in the span. Billins is tied for second in the conference in defensive scoring and power-play points.

No Place Like Home: The Bulldogs have compiled a 119-73-26 record (.545) at home since the 2000-01 campaign. Previous to this season, FSU had reached double-figure home win totals in a season on four occasions, which includes 15 victories in the 2002-03 (15-4-1) and 2009-10 (15-3-2) campaigns. Thus far this season, the Bulldogs have compiled a 14-1-2 record when playing at the Ewigleben Ice Arena.

Co-Captains: Senior defensemen Chad Billins (Marysville) and Tommy Hill (Portage) are serving as the Bulldogs' team co-captains in the 2011-12 campaign. They are the 40th and 41st individuals in the program's history to sport the captain's 'C' on their jersey.

Lowe's Senior CLASS Award Finalist- Senior defenseman Chad Billins (Marysville) of the Ferris State University men's ice hockey team has been chosen as a finalist for the 2011-12 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award in a recent announcement. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – classroom, character, community, and competition. The 10 finalists were narrowed down from a candidate pool of 20 and those 10 individuals will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select the finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of classroom, character, community and competition.

Hobey Baker: Senior goalie Taylor Nelson and senior defender Chad Billins are both currently on a list of 77 college hockey players who are up for the prestigious Hobey Baker Award. Go to www.hobeybakeraward.com and vote for you Bulldogs to make it to the next phase!

CCHA Preseason Polls:  Ferris State was picked to finish ninth in the 2011-12 CCHA Coaches Preseason Poll with 50 points. The Bulldogs received 425 points in the media poll to place tied for seventh among the 11 conference teams. Points were awarded on a 12-11-10-9, etc., basis. League coaches ranked the CCHA teams, excluding their own school, in the order they predicted the regular season will end.

2012 CCHA Championship Weekend:  The 2012 CCHA Championship will be held March 16-17 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich. The weekend event commences Thursday, March 15, with the annual CCHA Awards Show at the Fox Theatre from 7:30-9 p.m. (ET). The semifinal contests get underway Friday, March 16, at 4:35 p.m. (ET) and 8:05 p.m. (ET), respectively. The CCHA Championship Game is set for Saturday, March 17, at 7:35 p.m. (ET) preceeded by the CCHA Third-Place game at 3:35 p.m. (ET).

TV Exposure:  Ferris State will be making a combined three national and regional appearances on television this season. The Bulldogs made their TV debut on Comcast Television, which showcased FSU at Michigan earlier this season (10/27) and FSU's home matchup against Notre Dame at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids (2/11). FS Detroit (FSD) will feature the Ferris State at Western Michigan game (2/24)

On The Internet: Ferris State University Athletics' official web site can be found at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com. The site features information on all of FSU's varsity athletics programs including rosters, statistics, yearbooks and more.

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