The Ferris men’s hockey team has already punched their post-season ticket, but they have their eyes on home ice with the WCHA tournament fast approaching.
The Bulldogs will travel to Lake Superior State University to take on the Lakers in a pair of games that have major playoff implications for Ferris State, who are currently tied at fourth in the WCHA standings.
With only the top four teams earning a home ice advantage in the playoffs, the Bulldogs will need to put up a fight in hostile territory this weekend.
“The first goal every year is to make the playoffs so we can’t take that for granted,” said head coach Bob McDaniels in a post-game press conference on Feb. 18. “We’ve clinched a playoff spot already and now we’re tied for the last home-ice spot so our eyes are set on that.”
From the outside-looking-in, it appears the Lakers have a slight advantage over the Bulldogs in terms of raw offensive numbers. Coming into the weekend, the Lakers are averaging around 28 shots and three goals per game with a season total of 94 goals and 170 assists. On the other side, the Bulldogs are averaging 30 shots and 2.5 goals per game with season totals of 84 goals and 149 assists.
With the numbers mentioned above, it isn’t hard to see that the Lakers’ are strongest when the puck is being controlled by their forwards. In fact, nine forwards have scored five goals or more for the Lakers this season, an impressive feat no doubt.
The weakness for the Lakers is their inability to stop opposing offenses from finding the net. As mentioned above, the Lakers have scored 94 goals on the season. However, they have also allowed 93 goals to be scored on them. This could help a Ferris offense that takes plenty of shots but struggles to put points on the board.
The catalyst for the Bulldogs is freshman goalkeeper Justin Kapelmaster. Kapelmaster has upwards of 400 saves on the season and has developed into a staple for the Ferris defense. If he can keep his body in front of the puck, things should shake out in favor of the Bulldogs.
Even if the Bulldogs managed to sweep the Lakers, their fate could lie in the hands of Alabama-Huntsville when they take the ice against Bowling Green. Bowling Green, who shares the fourth spot with Ferris, owns the tie breaker against the Bulldogs. If Alabama-Huntsville can shock Bowling Green, the Bulldogs will hold their own fate in their hands.
“Every game right now is a playoff game,” said senior forward Gerald Mayhew following the Bulldogs’ victory over Alaska-Anchorage on Feb. 18. “Starting 0-7 is tough but we’re getting hot at the right time and I’m pretty confident in our team right now.”
The regular season finale will begin at 7:37 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, with the series concluding at 7:07 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. Fans can tune in to WCHA.tv or listen to the broadcast on 97.3 FM WDEE.