This weekend could mark the last games for four hockey seniors in front of the Dawg Pound in Big Rapids.
Forwards Gerald Mayhew, Chad McDonald, Jared VanWormer and defenseman Ryan Lowney will graduate this spring having left a mark on the Bulldog program.
The four have been to two National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournaments reaching as far as the Midwest Regional Finals, as well as winning the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) tournament. Lowney reflected on his time at Ferris in the midst of his last regular season home games.
“It’s going to be tough playing there for potentially our last time,” Lowney said. “Just being with the guys and having that atmosphere in the rink with the student section and all the fans, I think that’s probably going to be the biggest thing I’ll miss.”
This weekend, the Bulldogs will play Lake Superior State in hopes of earning the fourth-seed and first-round home ice in the WCHA tournament. These seniors have helped position the Bulldogs for a playoff run despite seemingly being bound to miss the playoffs midseason.
Mayhew leads the team in both assists and goals with 15 apiece and leads the conference with 27 points. McDonald had two goals against Alaska Anchorage Saturday, Feb. 18, to propel Ferris to its first sweep of the year. VanWormer and Lowney added points to the feat as well.
Head coach Bob Daniels said, “They’re going to be sorely missed next year. From year one, they’ve been very big contributors and good students.”
The talent of these players showed early. McDonald recalled a time playing against Lowney in practice and was so impressed he texted his assistant coach saying that Lowney would be the next Chad Billins.
Billins currently plays in the NHL for the Vancouver Canucks and was a captain for the Bulldogs in 2012 when they went to the Frozen Four.
McDonald said, “Lowney is probably the smallest kid on our team. But he probably has the biggest heart. He’s the smallest kid, but he lays the most hits of anyone on the team.”
VanWormer is second on the team in goals with 14. VanWormer is said to be a hard worker and one that sets a physical tone for the team.
“Worms is an unbelievably hard worker. He’s pushed me to be better,” McDonald said. “You always look over to see what one-seven’s doing because you don’t want to get beat.”
The intensity of VanWormer drives McDonald to work harder because of the competitive nature of the team. No one wants to get shown up or outworked. McDonald uses this mentality to be ruthless at the net.
“He’s got a great shot. It seems when he’s around the net he just fires it,”VanWormer said. “I always give him a little heckle because he misses the net a lot, but it’s all in fun.”
McDonald scored his first career goal Nov. 28, 2014, against Bemidji State in front of the Dawg Pound.
“It was something I had always dreamt of; scoring in front of the Dawg Pound,” McDonald said. “College hockey is so special because of the interaction you get from other students. You’re playing for your school and it’s really cool.”
McDonald has eight goals and eight assists on the season ranking sixth in points on the team.
Mayhew is another player that leads with his action. McDonald says he brings the same intensity as VanWormer in every game and practice.
“He’s just intense and gets the game. When you pair talent with hard work, you get someone like Jerry,” McDonald said. “Jerry brings it every night. He’s one of the most talented kids in all of college hockey.”
The Bulldogs are tied with Bowling Green for fourth in the WCHA at 38 points. Both teams split the season series at 2-2 which could lead to a complicated tie breaker if both teams earn the same number of points. The Bulldogs have a shot at home ice in the first round of the playoffs if they win out.
The Bulldogs play Lake Superior State Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25, at home. Friday’s matchup begins 7:37 p.m. in Ewigleben Arena.