WASHINGTON – In a statement entered into the Congressional Record, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., today (April 17) congratulated the Ferris State men's hockey team on their "phenomenal regular season" and thrilling post-season play all the way to the championship game. "It was a historic season, one that brought immense joy and considerable pride to everyone in Michigan, but especially to Big Rapids and the Ferris State family," Levin said in his statement. His full statement follows.
Mr. President, we in Michigan love hockey, at all levels, from the Detroit Red Wings of the NHL to early mornings spent at local rinks watching our kids in youth-league games. But even in Michigan, at the start of the men's college hockey season last winter, few eyes were on Big Rapids, Mich., where Coach Bob Daniels was preparing for his 20th season leading the Ferris State Bulldogs.
In a preseason poll, the Bulldogs were ranked ninth in the 11-team Central Collegiate Hockey Association. Ferris State had made it to the NCAA tournament only once in its history. And even in our home state, hockey teams from the larger schools tend to get more attention than the team in Big Rapids. But the players at Ferris, a campus of fewer than 15,000 students in a town of just over 10,000 residents, were determined to let neither history nor expectations get in their way. They just started winning – eight games in a row to start the season, in fact, on the way to the CCHA regular season championship, two weeks as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, 23 victories and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Despite a phenomenal regular season, few picked the Bulldogs to go far in the NCAA tournament. Experts pointed to the fact that the team had no players who had been drafted by the professional teams in the National Hockey League, one of only three teams in the 16-school field without an NHL draftee. Top-rated Boston College, for example, had nine. But by now, exceeding expectation was nothing new. The Bulldogs defeated the University of Denver, and then Cornell, each by a single goal, to reach the Frozen Four in Tampa.
In the national semifinals, Ferris State was locked in a tight match with Union College. The Bulldogs were behind 1-0 late in the second period when senior Aaron Schmitt scored to tie the game, and it remained tied until just under five minutes remained in the third and final period, when junior Kyle Bonis scored the go-ahead goal.
That victory set up a championship match with Boston College, the odds-on favorite for the championship. The Eagles had outscored their opponents in three previous tournament games by a combined 12 goals to 1. Again, few gave Ferris a chance. But there they were, in the waning moments of the third period, down by just a goal and battling to tie the game.
The Bulldogs fell just short. Still, it was a historic season, one that brought immense joy and considerable pride to everyone in Michigan, but especially to Big Rapids and the Ferris State family.
I hope my colleagues will join me in congratulating Coach Daniels, seniors Aaron Schmit, Chad Billins, Derek Graham, Michael Trebish, Jordie Johnston, Brett Wysopal, Tommy Hill and Taylor Nelson; their teammates, Scott Czarnowczan, Travis White, Jason Binkley, Cory Kane, Travis Ouellette, TJ Schlueter, Nate Milam, Garrett Thompson, Eric Alexander, Andy Huff, Justin DeMartino, Matthew Kirzinger, Justin Buzzeo, Dom Panetta, Simon Denis, Kyle Bonis, CJ Motte and Rob Granett; coaches Drew Famulak, Mark Kaufman and Dave Cencer; and Ferris State fans everywhere.
Thanks to the Bulldogs for a magical season.