Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University men's ice hockey head coach Bob Daniels was honored following Saturday's (Jan. 12) 3-1 Bulldog victory over Ohio State as this year's community Northern Lights Award recipient for sports and recreation.
The community award was presented by members of the Northern Lights Committee on the ice before a crowd of 2,325 fans inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena after the Bulldogs had won for the third time in the last four contests.
The Northern Lights Award series is in its 12th year and is presented by the Mecosta County Medical Center Foundation in an effort to recognize community members who made significant contributions in seven different areas that make up the acronym "Mecosta": Management, Business and industry, Environment, Civics, Outdoor Activities and sports, Social services and health, Training and education along with Arts and entertainment.
Seperate committees select the recipients for each category and then make surprise presentation of the award. After all the awards have been presented, a reception is also held to recognize the recipients.
"We spend a full year looking throughout the community to find somebody worthy of this award," said Steve Miller, chair of the Northern Lights Outdoor Activities and Sports Committee. "Coach Daniels is recognized by his peers, his league and division. His school is doing something special and he gets attention for that. It's in how he takes care of the people he does coach, the youth and how he spends time in the community."
MCMC Foundation Chair Tom Hogenson and members of the committee presented Daniels with the Northern Lights Award based on how invested the Big Rapids community is in Ferris State Hockey, his community service efforts and the Bulldogs' historic 2011-12 campaign in which they won the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Regular-Season crown, advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four and reached the national championship game.
"It was quite a surprise," Daniels said. "It is based on really a lot of hard work by the players and staff from last year's team. I've gotten several awards based on last year year, when in reality it's a group award rather than an individual accomplishment."
Daniels noted the unique relationship between Bulldog Hockey and the community.
"I saw the community rally to support the hockey program when there was the possibility of it being eliminated 24 years ago," he said. "That has really created a unique bond between the community and the program. I don't know that you would get that anywhere else in the country.
"I really feel that we've always appreciated their support and never taken the community for granted," he added. "They've really embraced this program and embraced athletics as a whole at Ferris State."
For his efforts in leading Ferris State to its first NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey "Frozen Four" appearance in school history last spring, Bob Daniels was chosen as the winner of the 2012 Spencer Penrose Award as the Division I Men's Ice Hockey flexxCOACH/AHCA National Coach of the Year. It marked his second Penrose Award, having been previously honored by his peers in 2003.
Daniels, last year's CCHA Coach of the Year, is midst his 21st season at Ferris State. A 1982 graduate of Michigan State University, Daniels got his coaching start in junior hockey, three times earning Coach of the Year honors for the Hennessey Engineers of the North American League from 1983-1986. He earned a master's degree in sports organization while serving as a graduate assistant at Miami University during the 1986-87 season. From there, he spent two years as an assistant at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Daniels first arrived at Ferris State in 1989 and served as an assistant under John Perpich for one year and Bob Mancini for two. He was named head coach in 1992 and ranks as the school's all-time winningest coach. In his previous Coach of the Year season, he led Ferris State to a record of 31-10-1 in 2002-2003.
The longest serving coach in FSU history, Daniels has coached 10 All-Americans, including 2003 Hobey Baker Hat Trick Award Finalist Chris Kunitz, the first ever CCHA Player of the Year to come from Ferris State. Daniels has also been very active with USA Hockey and the American Hockey Coaches Association.
The Bulldogs will be back in action this weekend (Jan. 18-19) as they take on the Michigan State Spartans in a league home-and-home series. Friday's contest will take place at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing and be televised live on Fox Sports Detroit with opening faceoff set for 7:35 p.m. (ET).
Meanwhile, the two teams will travel back to Big Rapids for Saturday's game at the Ewigleben Ice Arena, which begins at 7:05 p.m. (ET). It will represent the fourth and final meeting between the two schools this season and the last trip to Big Rapids for the Spartans in league regular-season play FSU departs for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) and MSU moves to the Big Ten Conference next season.
Tickets for Saturday's home contest can be purchased thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office, which is open Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. (ET) to 5 p.m. (ET) with extended hours on Wednesday until 7 p.m. (ET). In addition, tickets can also be bought online at StarTickets.com or by calling 1-800-585-3737. For more information, please call (231) 591-2888 or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
Note: Award Information Courtesy Big Rapids Pioneer