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Photo: Bulldog legend Chris Kunitz speaks with media members at this year's golf outing
Big Rapids, Mich. - The 28th annual Ferris State University Bulldog Hockey Classic-Alumni Golf Outing proved again to be a huge success as former players and community supporters made the trek to Big Rapids for a full weekend slate of activities.
A record crowd of more than 170 golfers took part in last Saturday's (Aug. 2) outing, which was officially sold out for the third-straight year while utilizing all 21 championship holes at FSU's Katke Golf Course.
"We're so appreciative to all the alumni, fans and Blueline Club members who helped support this great event," said FSU head coach Bob Daniels. "This event has continued to grow and evolve over the years into what has become such an enjoyable weekend of activities."
Along with the golf outing, Saturday's events also included a morning reception for former players and coaches along with lunch at the course prior to the 18 holes of golf. A dinner and awards ceremony followed at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center.
One of the weekend's highlights came during the evening dinner as the university public announced a $1.5 million "Be A Playmaker" major endowment fundraising campaign that has already netted $882,000 to date to help support Bulldog Hockey's NCAA Division I status well into the future.
This year, more than 50 former players and staff members gathered for a group photo prior to the golf scramble and the list included a number of notable alumni who have made their marks professionally and returned for the weekend including current National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins, defenseman Zach Redmond of the Colorado Avalanche, another recent NHL alum in forward Greg Rallo along with the Grand Rapids Griffins' head coach Jeff Blashill. The four, along with several other alumni, also spoke with West Michigan media members prior to the round of golf.
The weekend activities also included the annual Little Kevin Softball Game at Hemlock Park in Big Rapids on Friday night, which pitted local heroes from the police and firefighters force against Bulldog Hockey alumni followed by a downtown reception sponsored by the FSU Blueline Club.
The proceeds raised from Friday's event went to support the Little Kevin Hockey Fund, which was started by longtime Blueline Club president Kevin Courtney and his wife, Julie, more than a decade ago in honor of their five-year old son, Kevin Jr., who passed away. The fund has generated more than $70,000 since its inception and helps fund scholarships for youth who participate in the Big Rapids Area Junior Hockey Association and the Learn to Skate Program.
In addition to thanking the community and several supporters along with university administration and staff members during the evening banquet, Daniels also thanked associate head coach Drew Famulak, who organizes the event each year, the staff at Katke Golf Course along with a special thanks to former players who return year after year.
During the 2013-14 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.
The Bulldogs will open defense of their WCHA Regular-Season Championship as they begin the 2014-15 campaign and the program's 40th anniversary season in early October. The home opener is set for Saturday, Oct. 4, when FSU hosts the University of Michigan in Big Rapids.
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.