With less than a week remaining before the Ferris hockey team hits the ice for the first time, many questions still float around the Bulldogs.
Fear not, the Torch is here with five bold predictions that will hopefully clarify any remaining doubts about this year’s hockey team.
1. The Bulldogs will have the lowest goals scored against totals in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).
During the 2016-17 season, Ferris goaltender Justin Kapelmaster was ranked sixth in total goals allowed in the WCHA and was ranked second with a .921 save percentage. He was also named the College News National Freshman Goaltender of the Year. Kapelmaster only played in 17 games last season and put up incredible numbers for the Bulldogs, so it makes you wonder what he could have done with a full season under his belt. With Kapelmaster back, and a veteran defense returning with fellow Bulldogs senior Tyler Dorantes, juniors Ryker Killins and Zac Tierney and sophomore Cameron Clarke, don’t expect the Bulldogs to allow opponents to put up gaudy numbers.
2. The Bulldogs will take advantage in the power play while boasting the best power play percentage in the WCHA conference.
Last season, the Bulldogs had six players in the top 40 for power play goals in the WCHA. Four of these players return in senior Mitch Maloney, junior Craig Pefley, junior Corey Mackin, and sophomore Jason Tackett. With these offensive specialists on the powerplay this year, along with many talented new freshmen, this team could be prolific.
3. My next prediction might be my most daring. Ferris junior forward Corey Mackin will be the highest goal scorer in the WCHA this season.
Mackin, a former WCHA Rookie of the Year, is coming off a 13-goal, 26-point sophomore season. Mackin was second in total points behind former Bulldog Gerald Mayhew and was tied for 11th overall in total goals in the WCHA. Four of the players on the list for total goals last season have graduated their respected teams, and with Mackin having the off-season of a lifetime, he can jump to the top of this goal scoring list in the 2017-18 campaign.
4. Bulldog Head Coach Bob Daniels’ crew will take advantage on their home ice and boast the best home record in the WCHA.
Last season, the Bulldogs finished 6-9-2 at home in Ewigleben Arena, which we all know was not characteristic of the team. In the 2015-16 season, the Bulldogs finished 9-5-5 at home, 2014-15 7-6-1, and in 2013-14, 16-1-1. I expect the men’s hockey team to put on stellar performances this year in front of the always wild Dawg Pound and Bulldog faithful. Ferris State’s Ewigleben Arena has made Big Rapids one of WalletHub’s “Best Cities for Hockey Fans,” and this year I expect the Bulldogs to perform at a high level with all the returning talent.
5. To finish this thing off, I strongly feel that the Bulldogs can play for a WCHA title this season.
The Bulldogs finished fifth in the final standings last year, finishing behind Bemidji State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and Bowling Green. Ferris had at least one win against all four of these teams during the season last year. In many of those games, the Bulldogs were a few saves/bounces of the puck away from victories. The Bulldogs have many returning starters in their line-up as well and many of these teams lost key pieces. Expect a deep post-season run from this team.
With the season-opener set for Friday, Oct. 6 at 7:05 p.m. against the Broncos of Western Michigan in Kalamazoo, the Bulldogs certainly look special this season.