February 18, 2014

PREVIEW: #5 Bulldogs Host Third-Place Alaska Anchorage In Key WCHA Series This Weekend

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vs. Alaska Anchorage
Friday & Saturday, Feb. 21-22 – 7:07 p.m. (ET)
Ewigleben Ice Arena - Big Rapids, Mich.
 
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Complete Game Notes (PDF)


The Opening Faceoff:
The nationally fifth-ranked Ferris State University men's ice hockey team returns home for a key Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) series this weekend against the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids. Both games will get underway at 7:07 p.m. (ET) and large crowds are again expected with less than 300 tickets already remaining for the series' finale.

Media Coverage: Both games will be carried live by the Bulldog Sports Network and Sunny 97.3 FM with Dominic Hennig and Dan Kowalski calling the play-by-play action. Pregame coverage begins a half-hour prior to puck drop. The online broadcast is accessible at FerrisStateBulldogs.com. All links, including live video along with live internet statistics, will be available on the online home of Bulldog Athletics.

TV/Broadcast Coverage: A live HD video and audio pay-per-view webcast will be made available for all 2013-14 Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular-season league games along with non-league home matchups thru a conference agreement with WCHATV & America One.  Home games are produced by Ferris Television. Links will be available at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.

The Records: Ferris State owns a 21-7-3 overall mark to date this year and is now tied for first in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) standings with a 16-4-2 league record. The Bulldogs and Minnesota State both own 34 points although FSU has two games in hand with six games left on FSU's regular-season slate. Ferris State split two games on a long road trip to Bemidji State last weekend (Feb. 14-15) with the Bulldogs winning the opener 4-1 before the Beavers bounced back for a 2-1 triumph in the finale.

Alaska-Anchorage is 15-11-4 overall on the season and 11-9-4 in the WCHA heading into the weekend. The Seawolves climbed into third place in the league standings with a win and a tie last weekend at home against Bowling Green. After the two teams tied 2-2 in overtime on Friday (Feb. 14), UAA pulled out a 5-2 win in Saturday's (Feb. 15) series' finale.

The Coaches: Ferris State - Bob Daniels (Michigan State, 1982), 22nd season, 371-385-87 (.492) – (0-0-0 vs. Alaska Anchorage -- 0-0-0 Neutral, 0-0-0 Away and 0-0-0 Home). Daniels has the distinction of being the all-time winningest coach in Ferris State history. He was honored as the Spencer Penrose Award winner as the American Collegiate Hockey Association's (ACHA) Division I National Hockey Coach of the Year in both 2003 and 2012 in addition to claiming CCHA Coach of the Year honors both times. He was among three finalists for both the 2007-08 and 2009-10 CCHA Coach of the Year Awards. Daniels led the Bulldogs to their first-ever appearance at the Frozen Four and second-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship title two years ago.

Alaska Anchorage - Matt Thomas (RIT, 1998), 1st season, 15-11-4 (.509) - (0-0-0 vs. Ferris State).  Currently in his first season as a collegiate head coach, Thomas previously spent nine years as a head coach and general manager in the ECHL, including four-plus seasons with the Stockton Thunder. He posted a a lifetime record of 342-225-80 before taking over at UAA, ranking fifth on the professional league's all-time wins list. He also served as head coach for the ECHL's Fresno Falcons and the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies after three years as a Division I assistant at Maine and his alma mater, RIT.

Series History: Ferris State and Alaska Anchorage will meet for the first time since 1988 with the all-time series tied 1-1-1 overall. UAA won the first ever meeting between the teams at home by a 6-2 score on Dec. 19, 1986, in the Nissan Jeep Classic. The two teams then met for a non-conference series, Feb. 12-13, 1988, with the teams tying on Feb. 12 (5-5) and the Bulldogs winning on Feb. 13 (3-1) in Big Rapids.

Home Ticket Information: Single-game tickets for all FSU home contests this season are currently on sale and can be bought online at StarTickets.com, by calling 1-800-585-3737 or purchased in person at the FSU Athletics Ticket Office. The ticket office will be open inside the Ewigleben Sports Complex Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) along with extended hours on Wednesday until 7 p.m. (ET). Fans can save and avoid potential lines by purchasing in advance. For more ticket information, fans can visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com or call (231) 591-2888.

FSU Clinches Home Ice: Ferris State and Minnesota State have both clinched home ice for the opening round of the WCHA Playoffs the weekend of March 14-16. FSU will host an opponent to be determined in the best-of-three series with the winner advancing on to the WCHA Final Five at Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena on March 21-22.

Among Best In Nation: Currently, FSU's 21 wins are second in the country and the Bulldogs also have the nation's fifth-best winning percentage (.726). Ferris State held the nation's longest unbeaten streak earlier this year at 16 games (13-0-3) prior to its setback to Colgate in the championship game of the Mariucci Classic (Jan. 4). Ferris State is first in the WCHA standings with a 16-4-2 league record and hadn't dropped a league game in its debut season in the conference prior to its mid-January series at Minnesota State. FSU's current 10-1-1 home mark ranks as one of the top three performances on home ice in the nation this season. Ferris State is also fifth in the national PairWise and RPI rankings, which will help determine the NCAA Tournament field at the end of the season.

National Rankings: Ferris State ranks fifth nationally this week in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men's College Hockey Poll along with sixth in the United States College Hockey Online (USCHO) National Poll. The Bulldogs have been ranked as high as second in the nation three times this season, including prior to the Minnesota State series. Ferris State was ranked for 37 consecutive weeks dating between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons at one stretch and was ranked first in the nation during the memorable 2011-12 season. The number two national ranking this year represented the Bulldogs' highest placing in the poll since finishing second overall in the final 2011-12 USCHO.com Division I poll announced after FSU's historic appearance in the national championship game at the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four. Ferris State has currently been ranked among the nation's top 20 teams in the USCHO poll for 15 consecutive weeks and found among the country's top 10 teams in each of the last 12 polls.

WCHA Player Of Week: Ferris State junior goaltender CJ Motte was recognized as the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for the fifth time this season a week ago after helping FSU sweep Northern Michigan (Feb. 7-8). Motte, who yielded just one even-strength goal while backstopping the Bulldogs to a home-ice sweep over NMU, turned aside 58 of 60 shots on goal for a .967 series save percentage, posted four shutout periods, and blanked the Wildcats on eight of their nine power-play opportunities. Motte had 29 saves on Friday while surrending only a first period power-play goal. He also earned his third assist of the season on his team's sixth tally in the third period. He came back with another 29-save outing Saturday before a sellout crowd as the Bulldogs prevailed 2-1 over NMU despite being outshot 30-28. He previously claimed WCHA Defensive Player of Week honors three-straight weeks in the first half of the campaign and four times in a five-week span.

Vote For Hobey Baker Award: Voting is currently underway to help determine the 2014 Hobey Baker Award winner and Bulldog fans can cast their vote for FSU goaltender CJ Motte and senior forward Garrett Thompson. The annual award is given to college hockey's top player and fan balloting takes place online at www.hobeybakeraward.com. The first phase of fan balloting runs through March 9. Phase two of fan balloting begins on March 20 from the list of Top 10 Hobey Baker finalists. The 2014 Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced from a field of three finalists on April 11 during the NCAA Frozen Four Championships in Philadelphia.

Bulldog Olympian: Ferris State University and the Bulldog men's ice hockey program are currently being represented in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games as former FSU standout Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins is on the official 25-man team roster for defending gold medal champion Canada. The 2014 Winter Olympics are taking place Feb. 8-23 in Sochi, Russia, at the Bolshoy Ice Dome and Shayba Arena. A total of 14 countries are competing for Olympic Gold. In Sochi, Canada has been slotted in Group B along with Austria, Norway and Finland. Previously, Kunitz was a member of Canada's squad that won a silver medal at the 2008 World Championships. A member of the Pittsburgh Penguins and two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Kunitz was an NHL First-Team All-Star last season. He played for FSU from 1999-03 and led the Bulldogs to a CCHA Championship as a senior in 2002-03.

Final Home Series: Following this weekend's home series against Alaska-Anchorage, the Bulldogs will travel to face the Alaska Nanooks in WCHA play on Feb. 28-March 1 in Fairbanks, Alaska. FSU then returns home for "Senior Weekend" on March 7-8 as the Bulldogs host Lake Superior State in the final weekend of regular-season play at the Ewigleben Ice Arena. A special "Buy One, Get One Free" promotional offer is available for the LSSU series while supplies last. The Bulldogs' five seniors will be recognized on March 8 before the weekend finale with a FREE Senior Autograph session and Skate With The Dawgs after the game.

Weekend Promotions: As part of the weekend activities, on Friday night FSU will recognize the Bulldogs' volleyball team which reached the NCAA Division II Elite Eight last fall along with a local Special Olympics Poly Hockey State Championship Team. Saturday's series' finale will represent "International Night" with the Bulldogs partnering with the Office of International Education on campus for the special promotional theme featuring giveaways, education and performances.

Complete Game Notes (PDF) 

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