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Mark Bedics | | December 19, 2013

Ferris State enjoying success from unexpected places


With the top two scorers graduated from a season ago for a team that finished 16-16-5, but the defensive core and goalie C.J. Motte returning, Ferris State entered the 2013-14 season unsure what type of season would be awaiting them.

“I have been coaching long enough that you need to come into every season thinking this is going to be our year,” Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels said. “So many things can happen so you really need that mindset every year. You never know how things will go. Sometimes you think the team is going to be really good and then for some reason things just don’t come together for injuries or whatever reason, and at other times you don’t expect too much from a team coming into a year but they come together quickly and you have a great year. You just never know.”

Ferris State will head into the holiday break as one of the nation's top two teams as the Bulldogs climbed to second nationally this week in both major college hockey polls.

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What the Bulldogs do know is that they have put together a 14-2-3 record, a current 15-game unbeaten streak and are in first place in the WCHA standings, a full four points ahead of second-place Minnesota State. The 15-game streak ties the school record of the 2011-12 team which eventually made it to the national championship game in the only Frozen Four appearance in school history.

“I think our success can be attributed to a couple of things,” Daniels said. “First and foremost, our goaltending has been excellent. C.J. Motte has done just a tremendous job for us.  Secondly, we have had a lot of contributions on scoring from a wide variety of sources starting with our seniors all the way down to the freshmen. Some years it really takes a while before freshmen are able to contribute to the program. This year our freshmen class has come in and been able to have a major impact on our success.”

Motte truly has been impressive as he has a 14-0-3 record, a .927 save percentage and a 2.15 goals against average this season. Even more impressively, in the past six games, Motte has a 1.30 goals against average and a .956 save percentage.

“CJ has been really solid,” Daniels said. “His save percentage continues to grow as the year has gone on. It wasn’t very high early on, even though he was playing very well, but we have gotten better as a team defensively. He has been wiping out so many defensive mistakes we were making, which is nice because the defenders learn from mistakes without having to see the puck in the back of the net.”

Offensively, Ferris State has 10 players that have scored at least 10 points. In addition, the Bulldogs have scored at least four goals in 10 of its 17 games this season and are 10-0 in those games. Senior Garrett Thompson leads the nation with 20 points on nine goals and 11 assists. Thompson was also one of the key cogs in the 2011-12 Frozen Four team.

“I think our older players took a lot from that experience,” Daniels said. “They realize it is a year-long pursuit and that there are going to be some rocky moments. They realize we aren’t going to go unbeaten for the rest of the season. The team that went to the Frozen Four never got too excited when we won and never got too down when we lost. That is the current mindset of this team, so we need to make sure we continue to not let our emotions get carried away either way.”

Even with the great start, the goals for the team haven’t changed.

“We have the same basic goals every year,” Daniels said. “The first is to make the conference playoffs, since only eight of the 10 teams make it. The second is to get home ice advantage for the playoffs. Third is to win the league playoffs. Obviously, if we do that we qualify for the NCAA tournament and then it’s just one game at a time.”

For the team to reach its potential, Daniels knows there is plenty of room for improvement.

“We need to get better defensively,” Daniels said. “We have been relying on our goaltending too much to erase the mistakes we have made. We need to improve our puck management skills and not have so many turnovers.”

With the current unbeaten streak, the Bulldogs have risen to second in the nation in the polls. They are trying to reach the top spot, which they attained two seasons ago for the only time in school history.

“I would be lying if I said we didn’t pay attention to the polls, they are an affirmation of how you are playing,” Daniels said. “That being said the teams that have been ranked No. 1 so far this year are certainly deserving of it. The streak itself, we haven’t discussed at all. We have just kept our eye on the next game, so it hasn’t even come up. I think that is in part to our leadership and realizing we need to take it one game at a time.”

With the season halfway over, the Bulldogs are on break until Jan. 3 when they will face Rensselaer in the Mariucci Classic at Minnesota.

“So far all we really have done is put ourselves in really good position to have a storied year but that is it,” Daniels said. “We need to maintain our focus and continue to play one game and a time because we really haven’t accomplished anything yet, other than putting ourselves in a good position.”

Bemidji State working overtime

Last Friday night’s 3-3 overtime tie was Bemidji State's third consecutive draw – a first in 58 seasons (1,660 games) of Beaver Hockey. Six of BSU’s last nine games have been stretched to overtime. BSU is 1-1-6 in OT this season and is unbeaten in its last six overtime contests (1-0-5). Bemidji State played a program record, and at the time an NCAA record, 15 overtime contests in 2002-03 and finished that season with an all-time high eight ties. BSU also posted eight ties in 12 OT contests a year ago.

Gaudreau powers on

Boston College forward Johnny Gaudreau has stretched his point streak out to 11 games, having accounted for 20 points (10g,10a) during the tear. He is now in the 50th-most prolific point scorer in Eagles’ history. He has racked up 123 points (55g, 68a). Gaudreau is also in the midst of another career best, having assisted in the last six games.

Three is a magic number

Minnesota has not been shut out this year and has only been held to two goals or less three times this year. The Gophers are 12-2-2 overall on the season, and in the three games in which they have scored less than three goals they are 0-2-1. When Minnesota scores at least three goals they are 12-0-1. In fact, they have scored at least four goals in a game nine times this season.

More notes from the ice

Alaska-Anchorage is 7-2-1 at home and 0-5-1 on the road … Minnesota State has won its last seven games … RIT has not allowed a short handed goal on 74 power-play chances … All nine of Boston University’s freshmen have dressed in its past three games … Maine is averaging 5.33 goals per game in its nine wins and only 1.83 goals per game in its six losses … Mercyhurst is 4-0-1 in its last five games and have outscored its opponents, 28-11, in those games … Rensselaer’s Ryan Haggerty is the only player in the country averaging more than a goal per game as he has 18 goals in 17 games … Mercyhurst’s Matthew Zay and Miami’s Riley Barber are tied for the nation’s lead with three shorthanded goals … Thirteen of the past 15 games between Air Force and Holy Cross have been decided by one goal or end in a tie … Bentley’s seven game unbeaten streak (6-0-1) is its longest since the 2011-12 season, which was seven games as well (5-0-2).

Western Michigan cruises to the men's hockey Great Lakes Invitational title

Western Michigan took down Ferris State to win the Great Lakes Invitational.

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