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Big Rapids, Mich. - Defending Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) Regular-Season Champion Ferris State, which reached the NCAA Elite Eight last season, officially unveiled its upcoming 2014-15 schedule on Thursday (July 10) in conjunction with the release of the WCHA composite schedule by the conference office.
A challenging 37-game regular-season schedule awaits for the 2014-15 season, which will mark FSU's 40th anniversary season, and will be highlighted by a 28-game league slate, matchups against three different Big Ten Conference members along with the school's first-ever appearance in the Great Lakes Invitational (GLIAC) on the 50th anniversary of the event at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
The Bulldogs' season opener is set for Saturday, Oct. 4, as the University of Michigan visits the Ewigleben Ice Arena as part of FSU's annual Homecoming weekend. It will kick off Ferris State's 37th season of NCAA Division I competition.
"We've certainly put together a very challenging schedule and one that will test our team from the moment the puck drops," said head coach Bob Daniels, a two-time National Coach of the Year who will embark on his 23rd season at the Bulldog helm this year. "We're excited about this schedule and the number of great opponents we'll see along the way, both in and out of the conference race."
Following the Oct. 4 matchup at home against the Wolverines, the Bulldogs will then play their annual exhibition contest in Big Rapids versus Wilfred Laurier the following Friday (Oct. 10). A year ago, Ferris State ranked as one of the nation's most dominant teams on home ice, posting a 16-1-1 overall mark inside the Ewigleben Ice Arena. FSU has registered 16 sellouts over the last two-plus seasons, making tickets for home contests one of the hottest around. The exhibition game on Oct. 10 will include a special "Meet The Team" event for all season ticket holders which will include an opportunity to meet the team, take a locker room tour, Skate with the Dawgs, enjoy refreshments and more.
After the exhibition tilt, the Bulldogs will hit the road for a two-game non-league road set at St. Lawrence on Oct. 17-18 in Canton, N.Y. FSU will repay a visit to the Saints after the two teams split a pair of outings last season in Big Rapids.
FSU then returns home to open defense of its WCHA Regular-Season Championship and the MacNaughton Trophy one week later (Oct. 24-25) when the Bulldogs entertain Michigan Tech. Last season, the two teams had four exciting matchups, including three one-goal games.
Ferris State closes the month of October and opens the month of November by visiting former Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) opponent Michigan State for back-to-back games on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing. The Bulldogs beat the Spartans 2-0 in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game played last season on the MSU Campus.
The Bulldogs' first WCHA road series takes place Nov. 7-8 when FSU travels to the Berry Events Center to face Northern Michigan in Marquette. That will be followed by a four-game home swing with matchups against Alaska-Anchorage on Nov. 13-14 and Alabama-Huntsville on Nov. 21-22. The two-game series versus UAA will be a rematch of last season's WCHA Playoff Semifinal won by the Bulldogs in overtime at Van Andel Arena and will be played on a Thursday-Friday format.
Ferris State will step away from league action over the Thanksgiving holiday as FSU heads West for a pair of non-league games against another Big Ten member at Wisconsin. The two matchups against the Badgers are set for Nov. 28-29 in Madison. The final two contests prior to the Christmas holiday break will be back at home versus WCHA member Lake Superior State on Dec. 12-13.
The Bulldogs return from the holiday by competing in one of the nation's most prestigious and oldest events with the school's first-ever appearance in the Great Lakes Invitational (GLI) on Dec. 28-29 at Joe Louis Arena. FSU will square off against Michigan State the first night and then face either Michigan or Michigan Tech the second day.
"We're thrilled to be asked to represent Ferris State University in one of college hockey's oldest and most prestigious tournaments," said Daniels. "Over the years, when we've gone to Joe Louis Arena for the CCHA playoffs, our fans have done an outstanding job of supporting and following us so they made a strong case for our team to be part of this great event."
The second half of the season begins with a grueling four-game trip to Alaska as the Bulldogs face the Alaska Nanooks on Jan. 2-3 in Fairbanks and then battle Alaska-Anchorage on Jan. 8-9 in Anchorage.
The trip to the great frontier will be followed by yet another tough four-game stretch as FSU faces Minnesota State at home on Jan. 16-17 and then repays the visit to Mankato Jan. 30-31. The Bulldogs and Mavericks had a pair of memorable regular-season contests a year ago and finished first and second in the league's regular-season race.
After four-straight games versus MSU, the Bulldogs will play another four consecutive contests against the same opponent with a trip to Bowling Green State on Feb. 6-7 followed by the Falcons' return visit to Big Rapids one week later (Feb. 13-14). FSU then heads South to square off against Alabama-Huntsville on Feb. 20-21 before wrapping up the month back at home on Feb. 27-28 against Bemidji State.
The final league regular-season series is set for March 6-7 versus Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie. The top four teams again following league regular-season action will host the opening round of the WCHA Playoffs March 13-15 with this year's WCHA Final Five Championship taking place in St. Paul, Minn.
NCAA Regional action will be held again this coming year at four sites with the 2015 Frozen Four set for April 9 & 11 in Boston, Mass.
"As last season proved, the WCHA race will be highly competitive every weekend and we'll have to be on top of our game each night," Daniels said. "The conference matchups, combined with the high-quality non-conference opponents we'll see this year, I believe make this one of the most challenging schedules in college hockey and one that will certainly prepare us well for postseason action."
The starting time for selected dates may be changed as a result of television broadcast schedules which will be announced in the coming months. Fans are encouraged to frequently view Ferris State Athletics' official website at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com for the latest Bulldog Hockey schedule updates and changes.
Last season, Ferris State won the WCHA Regular-Season Championship in its debut season, reached the WCHA Final Five Championship game and came within a single victory of reaching the NCAA Frozen Four for the second time in three years.
Along the way, FSU set a school-record with a nation-leading 16-game unbeaten streak that stretched from late October to early January and the Bulldogs' 29 total wins led the country and ranked as the second-best seasonal mark in school history. The Bulldogs were ranked as high as second in the nation during the regular-season and finished sixth in the final national rankings.
Ferris State was the lone team from the state of Michigan to reach the NCAA Tournament last season and one of only two schools from the WCHA along with Minnesota State. The Bulldogs led the WCHA race for the McNaughton Cup from wire-to-wire and became only the third program ever to win both the former CCHA along with the WCHA.
Season ticket packages for the 2014-15 are currently on sale and must be purchased by Aug. 28 with single-game ticket sales beginning after that date. For more information on tickets, please call (231) 591-2888 or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.