This is the second of three Soaring to Glory analyses on the non-Boston College participants in the Frozen Four. Today’s subject is Ferris State, a potential national championship foe. See: Minnesota
So, you’ve heard that FSU is in the Frozen Four. No, definitely not Florida State — that would be Ferris State University, hailing from Big Rapids, Michigan (which, for those not familiar with the town, is located somewhere roughly in the center of Michigan’s lower peninsula).
The Bulldogs are in the Frozen Four for the first time ever, having joined Division I and the CCHA in 1979 but never reaching the national semifinals until now. On Thursday afternoon, they will face Union for the right to play the winner of the Boston College/Minnesota game.
If not a fan of the CCHA, one would have to be a college hockey buff to be familiar with the program, but nevertheless, they are a legitimately good team in 2012. The Bulldogs have gone 25-11-5 in getting this far, winning the CCHA regular season title; they got a bye in their conference’s tournament but fell in the quarterfinals to Bowling Green.
You can scan the top 50 point leaders in the nation all you like, but you won’t find any Ferris State Bulldogs there. Their team leader, Jordie Johnston, has 36, putting him just outside of that list. He is also the team leader with 20 goals, so one can probably make the case that he is the best offensive player on the team. Only Kyle Bonis comes close to his goal-scoring production with 18 of his own. Then again, Bonis and Johnston have easily taken the most shots of anyone on the team.
Offensively, Ferris State is not one of the heavy hitters, averaging 2.93 goals per game (21st in the country). Their power play is similarly-ranked, coming in at #25 with a 19.17% conversion percentage.
Ferris State makes its money on defense. The Bulldogs are fifth in the nation with just 2.17 goals allowed per game, and they have the sixth-best penalty kill in Division I at 85.8%. The goaltender, Taylor Nelson, is a big part of why they’re so successful in these areas. He has won 20 of the 29 games in which he’s recorded the decision and allows a few thousandths of a point over 2.1 goals per game. His .923 save percentage is also high up the national list.
When facing Ferris State, you won’t be blown away by their offense, but they will fight you tooth-and-nail on defense.