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Big Rapids, Mich. - A 34-game regular-season schedule awaits the defending national runner-up Ferris State University men's ice hockey squad in 2012-13 as the Bulldogs today (May 24) announced their complete schedule for the coming season.
This past season, in 2011-12, the Bulldogs claimed the school's second Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Regular-Season Championship in the last 10 years, won the NCAA Division I Midwest Regional title and reached the national championship game at the NCAA Frozen Four.
The Bulldogs will follow up the school's most memorable campaign in history with a 34-game schedule in 2012-13 that includes 17 home dates (counting the annual preseason exhibition game) and 28 league contests in FSU's final season as a CCHA member.
Highlights of the schedule include: a trip to the highly-competitive Florida College Hockey Classic on Dec. 28-29 in Estero, Fla.; four games apiece versus league in-state rivals Michigan, Michigan State and Western Michigan; 15 or possibly 16 games against teams that were included in this past year's 16-team NCAA Tournament field; and 20 contests involving teams that were featured in the final United States College Hockey Online (USCHO.com) Top 20 National Rankings this past season.
"The schedule will be extremely challenging again and especially within the league," said head coach Bob Daniels, who was named the National Coach of the Year for the second time in 2011-12 and embarks on his 21st year behind the Bulldogs' bench in 2012-13 with a school-record 334 career victories to date. "We're looking forward to being able to play four games each against our in-state rivals and it's great when you can play those state teams as many times as possible.
"Additionally, our non-conference schedule is tough and will be highlighted by the holiday tournament in Florida both on the event location and the fact that it should be one of the more challenging and competitive events due to the strength of the four teams in the field," he added.
FSU's 35th season of Division I intercollegiate hockey will begin on Oct. 7 with an exhibition game against Ryerson University of Canada at the Ewigleben Ice Arena beginning at 3:05 p.m. (ET). The regular-season will start one week later on Oct. 12-13 as the Bulldogs venture to New York to square off for the second consecutive year against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), which is guided by a Bulldog alum and former assistant coach in Seth Appert.
The Bulldogs' regular-season home-opening series takes place on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19-20, versus Mercyhurst in Big Rapids with both games starting at 7:05 p.m. (ET).
Ferris State opens defense of its CCHA Regular-Season Championship at home on Oct. 26-27 when the Alaska Nanooks make the trek to Michigan for a two-game league set. FSU then plays a third consecutive home series on Nov. 2-3 as the Bulldogs entertain Miami (Ohio) at the Ewigleben Ice Arena.
The Bulldogs will play six different league home-and-home series' during the course of the campaign against Michigan, Michigan State and Western Michigan. UM visits Big Rapids on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, the Broncos come to town on Feb. 1-2 while MSU squares off against FSU inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena on Jan. 5 and Jan. 19.
Return games against the three cluster opponents are slated for March 1-2 at Michigan, Dec. 7-8 at Western Michigan along with Dec. 15 and Jan. 18 at Michigan State.
FSU will also play four games against its final cluster opponent, Bowling Green State, with the Bulldogs visiting the Falcons on Nov. 16-17 and BGSU coming to Big Rapids on Feb. 15-16.
The remaining two league home games are against Ohio State on Jan. 11-12. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs will also play road games at Lake Superior State (Nov. 9-10), Notre Dame (Jan. 25-26) and Northern Michigan (Feb. 8-9).
"I believe there will be a lot of excitement generated throughout this season as we face some of the nation's top-caliber teams with several of those games at home, which will add to an already great atmosphere for both our players and fans," Daniels said.
Ferris State's holiday trip to the Florida College Hockey Classic in Estero (near Fort Myers) will feature a rematch of this past year's NCAA Division I Midwest Regional Championship game as the Bulldogs take on Cornell in the opener on Dec. 28. Returning NCAA Tournament qualifiers Maine and Minnesota-Duluth are the other two teams in the tournament with the respective losers and winners meeting on Dec. 29.
The 2012 CCHA Tournament will commence on March 8-10 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 15-17 with another best-of-three round series at campus sites. The top four seeds, which receive first-round byes, will entertain the remaining four lower seeds who earn the right to advance after prevailing in their respective first-round series. The 2012 semifinals and championship contests are slated for March 22-23 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich.
NCAA Regional action will be held this coming year at four sites, including Providence (R.I.), Manchester (N.H.), Toledo (Ohio) and in Grand Rapids at Van Andel Arena. The 2013 Frozen Four will take place on April 11-13 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Ferris State University's most impressive season on the ice in school history came to a close in the national championship game at the 2012 Frozen Four in Tampa (Fla.) with a 26-12-5 overall record. It included a first-ever trip to the Frozen Four and a national runner-up finish. FSU's 26 wins in the 2011-12 campaign are the second-most in school history.
The title game appearance in 2011-12 marked the first time in school history any Bulldog team had ever competed in a national championship game. FSU won or tied 19 of its final 23 games of the season and had an impressive nation-leading 15-game unbeaten streak during the season along with a number one national ranking in both polls for two weeks in February.
Ferris State's runner-up finish and final second-place listing in the national polls are both tops all-time in FSU annals. The Bulldogs will return 18 players from this past year's team for the 2012-13 campaign.
The starting time for selected 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.
Information regarding season and single-game ticket sales for the 2012-13 campaign along with game promotional information will be announced in the near future.