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Big Rapids, Mich. - Five members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Regular-Season Champion Ferris State University men's ice hockey team have claimed 2013-14 All-WCHA Award accolades while head coach Bob Daniels was also recognized as the WCHA Coach of the Year as part of an official announcement made Thursday afternoon by the league office.
Daniels was honored as the WCHA Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to the regular-season crown. Meanwhile, FSU had an All-WCHA First Team honoree in junior goaltender CJ Motte along with two second-team picks in senior forward Garrett Thompson and senior defenseman Scott Czarnowczan. Junior defenseman Jason Binkley claimed All-WCHA Third Team recognition with freshman forward Kyle Schempp named to the All-WCHA Rookie Team. The selections represent the first All-WCHA honorees in Bulldog history.
In addition, seven Bulldog student-athletes also claimed WCHA All-Academic Team kudos in Czarnowczan and Motte along with junior forward Justin Buzzeo, sophomore defenseman Zach Dorer, senior forward Andy Huff, sophomore defenseman Sean O'Rourke along with junior forward Dom Panetta. Binkley was previously tabbed as a WCHA Scholar-Athlete this season while Motte and Czarnowczan were among 13 individuals who claimed All-WCHA honors or were a major award recipient to also receive all-academic team accolades.
Voting for WCHA awards and all-league teams was done by member team head and assistant coaches and captains or sports information directors. Each team received four ballots for a total of 40 voters. Points for awards and all-league teams are awarded on a 5-point (1st team vote), 3-point (2nd team vote), and 1-point (3rd team vote) basis. The WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year award is selected by member team Faculty Athletic Representatives while the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year is chosen by the league's 10 head coaches.
Besides Daniels receiving the WCHA Coach of the Year honor, the league's other major individual awards went to University of Alaska forward Cody Kunyk as WCHA Player of the Year, Alaska defenseman Colton Parayko as WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, Lake Superior State University forward Alex Globke as WCHA Rookie of the Year, Alaska's Cody Kunyk as WCHA Scoring Champion, Minnesota State University's Cole Huggins as WCHA Goaltending Champion, and Alabama-Huntsville's Chad Brears as WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year.
Chosen as the WCHA Coach of the Year, Daniels led the Bulldogs to the regular season title as first-year league members. In the midst of his 22nd season at the helm and a two-time National Coach of the Year Award recipient, Daniels guided the Bulldogs to their second conference championship in the last three years as FSU became only the third program ever to win both the WCHA and the former Central Collegiate Hockey Association titles. The Bulldogs led the league race from wire-to-wire in claiming the fabled MacNaughton Cup and securing the number one seed for the league playoffs. During the 2013-14 season, the Bulldogs established a new school record under Daniels with a nation-leading 16-game unbeaten streak, which lasted from late October until early January. Ferris State did not drop a conference game until the middle of January and the Bulldogs finished the regular-season with a first-place 20-6-2 league slate.
Under Daniels' leadership, Ferris State has compiled a nation-leading 25 wins (25-9-3), the fourth most in school history, and the Bulldogs own one of the country's top marks on home ice with a 14-1-1 record inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena. FSU, ranked as high as second and among the nation's top 10 teams each of the last 15 weeks, went unbeaten at home (13-0-1) in conference action and posted its sixth-straight season with increased home attendance. This season's average of 2,141 fans per game was its best in 32 years. Additionally, Ferris State is also presently sixth in the national PairWise and RPI rankings with the Bulldogs eyeing their third overall NCAA Tournament bid, including the second in three seasons following the memorable 2011-12 run to the national championship game at the NCAA Frozen Four.
Motte was the lone goaltender tabbed to the All-WCHA First Team after compiling a 19-6-2 mark in league action along with a 2.29 goals against average and .927 save percentage in WCHA play. The junior standout owns the most overall wins in the country this campaign (24) and moved into third-place on the school's career victory list last weekend. His 24 total wins this season are the second-most in a single-campaign in schoool history. He claimed WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors six times this season and was the national player of the month for December.
Meanwhile, Thompson and Czarnowczan were among six players on the second team. Thompson has tallied a team-leading 27 total points to date this year and recorded 18 points on 11 goals and seven assists in 28 conference outings. The 2014 Hobey Baker Award nominee placed among the conference leaders in goal scoring and total points in league action this year. Czarnowczan, the Bulldogs' team captain, was among the WCHA's top scoring defensemen with 17 total points in conference action on four goals and 13 assists. He led the Bulldogs to the regular season title-clinching win over Lake Superior State last Saturday (March 8) with a goal and an assist to earn WCHA Defensive Player of the Week laurels. Overall, his 21 points this season for all games ranks 32nd in the country among the nation's top blueliners.
A third-team choice, Binkley also finished as one of the league's top defensemen with 18 points on two goals and 16 helpers in WCHA competition. A league defensive player of the week honoree earlier this year, he's 24th to date in the country among defensemen with 22 total points.
Finally, Schempp made the most of his freshman campaign to earn All-Rookie honors with 18 points on six goals and 12 assists to finish fifth among all rookies in the conference in league scoring. He was also among the league's overall top 30 scorers as a freshman and was one of seven players chosen to the squad.
A total of 145 student-athletes, representing all 10 Western Collegiate Hockey Association-member institutions, earned distinction as members of the men's 2013-14 WCHA All-Academic Team as announced by the conference office. To earn recognition as a member of the WCHA All-Academic Team, member team student-athletes must meet the following criteria: 1) have completed one year of residency at present institution, prior to the current academic year; and 2) have a grade point average of at least 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) for the previous two semesters or three quarters.
In addition to the seven named to the All-Academic Team, seven others were previously recognized as 2013-14 WCHA Scholar-Athletes for their prestigious accomplishments, which included owning a 3.5 GPA or higher. The list included: The Bulldogs' Brandon Anselmini (D, So., Guelph, ON); Kenny Babinski (F, So., Midland, MI); Binkley (D, Jr., Powell, OH); Cory Kane (F, Sr., Irvine, CA); Matt Robertson (F, So., Rohnert Park, CA); Travis White (D, Jr., Sterling Heights, MI) and Charles Williams (G, So., Canton, MI).
The Bulldogs will be the top seed for the WCHA Playoffs and host Bemidji State in a best-of-three first round series Friday thru Sunday, March 14-15 and 16 (if necessary), at the Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids. The first two games of the first round series are scheduled for 7:07 p.m. (ET) with the deciding third game, if necessary, beginning on Sunday at 5:07 p.m. (ET). The series will represent FSU's first-ever WCHA home playoff action.
The winner of the opening-round series will advance to Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena for the WCHA Final Five Championship on March 21-22 with the league's playoff champion earning the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Tickets for this weekend's playoff series can be purchased in advance by contacting the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or by visiting the box office during normal business hours Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET). The ticket office will also open at noon on Saturday along with Sunday if needed.
In addition, tickets for this weekend's action may also be purchased 24 hours a day online at StarTickets.com or by contacting Star Tickets at 1-800-585-3737. For additional ticket information, please contact the FSU ticket office directly at (231) 591-2888 or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.