Series Record: 1-3-0 Ferris State leads
Friday, December 28
March 24, 2012
The last meeting of the Bulldogs of Ferris State and the Big Red is a memorable one, especially for Ferris State. In Ferris State's last season, the school had a Cinderella-story run through the tournament. In only their second NCAA tournament appearance, Ferris State opened up the Midwest Regional Semifinal to beat a hurting Denver team. Cornell had just upset Michigan the same night and the bracket led both teams to play for a coveted spot in the Frozen Four. Ferris had the better of Cornell after an incredibly hard-fought game which did not see scoring until the third period. Ferris State put a goal on the scoreboard first, just 11 seconds into the period on a power play, but Cornell quickly followed with a goal by Dustin Mowrey from Gotovets, just over a minute after the first goal was scored. Ferris would get the eventual game winner almost seven minutes into the period when a broken stick caused Cornell to be short-handed on the Ferris goal.
Ferris State played another ECAC team in the national semifinal matchup, Union College. Ferris beat Union to advance to the national championship game against a heavily favored Boston College team. The Cinderella Story would end just one win away from completing the run, when Ferris lost to the Eagles 4-1.
This season sees Ferris State as a national runner-up who was not given the credit to get back there. Ferris State began the season at Troy, NY where they suffered a disappointing series, losing and tying RPI. The season has been up and down from there. A far cry from the overall record of last season (26-12-5), their 7-7-3 record is not quite as dismal as it could be, having played conference powerhouses already this season. However, if Ferris State wishes to pull out another at-large bid, they are going to have to turn back on the winning nature of last season. Currently, Ferris is on a 4-game winless streak, tying the second game against Michigan and losing to Western Michigan and Michigan State. The Bulldogs will need more than one win this weekend at the Florida College Hockey Classic if they wish to remain at or above .500. The Bulldogs's biggest problem seems to be splitting rather than sweeping weekends. The only team that Ferris State has swept this season has been Bowling Green. On the other hand, Ferris is a very hard team to sweep. They have only been swept one weekend this year, by Western Michigan. Ferris looks to break its winless streak against Cornell in the first game at Estero.
Keys to the Game:
Ferris State is not typically an offensive power house. They are defensively sound and play a game more similar to Cornell than not. This was seen last year in the regional final. Cornell this year is offensively potent and when it scores more than one goal, it often wins. The same can be said for Ferris. It typically wins by small margins (excepting the 5-0 rout at Michigan), and losses have not been by more than two goals (excepting the one 4-1 loss to St. Cloud). The game will be tight and Cornell will need to be ready to play a close game.
While the goaltender Cornell faced (Nelson) has since graduated, Ferris State's starter is a sophomore with a 0.927 save percentage. He has played a vast majority of minutes and has recorded all wins and losses this season. Their PK/PP units are to be watched as well. Ferris has the 27th best penalty kill in the nation while their power play unit is an impressive 7. Cornell will need to be extremely vigilant on the penalty kill against this Ferris State team.
Ferris State and Cornell have not faced often, but there is something familiar about Ferris State. RPI head coach Seth Appert is a Ferris State alumnus, having graduated in '97. Appert's wins this year may not be plentiful, but he knew how to take down a Ferris team early in the season, just coming off a national championship appearance.
More interesting is the fact that the Florida College Classic is the only winter college hockey tournament where all four teams involved were invited to the NCAA Tournament. Ferris State, Cornell, Minnesota-Duluth, and Maine. Even more interesting, both first-round games are rematches of tournament games from last year. Minnesota-Duluth played Maine in the first round of the NCAA tournament, beating them 5-2 in Worcester while Cornell and Ferris played one another in the regional finals leading to a 2-1 Ferris State victory. It will be interesting to see what has changed in the past year and what has stayed the same.