The Bulldogs finished sixth in the nation in team defense and led the nation in penalty killing last season in part due to goaltending duo Pat Nagle and Taylor Nelson.
Nagle, a senior from Bloomfield and Nelson, a junior from Regina, Saskatchewan, finished fourth and fifth in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) in goals against average last season. Nagle allowed 2.13 goals per game, while Nelson allowed 2.49 goals per game.
Having two goaltenders of the caliber of Nelson and Nagle is not a bad problem to have. The two goalies split playing time, but Nelson said they push each other in practice and are both game ready for a weekend series.
“Obviously someone wants to take the reins, but at the same time we both know the situation we’re in and we just go out, support each other and do the best that we can to help the team win,” said Nelson.
Nagle said he and Nelson are good friends and that makes a big difference when they are competing for playing time.
“Obviously we both work hard and we both want the opportunity to play, but at the same time you have to know you’re rooting for the other guy just as much when he’s in the net,” said Nagle.
Last season, Nagle finished with a record of 12-10-3-1 in 24 starts, while Nelson compiled a 9-3-3-1 record in his 15 starts in net. Additionally, both goalies finished in the top seven in the conference in save percentage.
With the Bulldogs returning 20 players for the 2010-11 season, including seven of eight defensemen, Nelson said the team expects to return to Joe Louis Arena and compete for the CCHA Championship again.
“Obviously you set your goals out at the start of the year and the main goal is to win the championship and that’s what it is for every single team,” said Nelson.
Last year’s goaltending success was not merely a fluke. Nagle and Nelson rank as two of the top goalies in Ferris State history. Nelson and Nagle rank in the top eight in school history in both career save percentage and goals against average.
The Bulldogs added freshman goaltender Rob Granett from Clarkston to the roster to fill the void left by the departure of Jordan Barber.
Nagle said there is nothing better than playing in front of a sold-out crowd. Nelson said he is looking forward to starting the new season and said fan support is an important part of helping the team start off strong.
“If we can get the support from the students like we did last year, plus more, that place is going to be insane and that’s what gets us going,” said Nelson.