Rejuvenated for regionals

Bulldogs earn second-ever NCAA Tournament berth

Ferris State University’s post-season has caught new life after the Bulldogs were selected to participate in the NCAA Division I Tournament.

The Bulldogs were selected as the second seed in the Midwest Regional and will face third-seeded Denver on Mar. 23 at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisc. Opening faceoff will be at 5:30 p.m. (ET).

“It’s great that we’re in the tournament, but we’re not going just to say ‘Hey cool, we made the tournament.’ We want to win some games,” senior goaltender Taylor Nelson said. “We’re really eager to play some games.”

This is only the second NCAA Division I Tournament berth the Bulldogs have received in the program’s history. Ferris will make its first NCAA Tournament appearance since the 2002-03 season when the Bulldogs defeated North Dakota to reach the Elite Eight of the tournament before losing to Minnesota.

“We built a whole year up towards this. As a team, it’s a huge accomplishment,” sophomore forward Garrett Thompson.

The Bulldogs’ season will depend on whether they can defeat Denver. Denver plays in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and was recently shutout by North Dakota in the WCHA title game.

“Denver’s going to be a powerhouse, but we’ll be ready for them,” Nelson said. “We’re pretty hungry considering the way we went out [in the CCHA playoffs] and we’re excited.”

Denver finished third in the WCHA regular season standings and has racked up a 25-13-4 record this year.

The Bulldogs will have to stop Denver’s nationally ninth-ranked team offense, according to U.S. College Hockey Online, which averages 3.29 goals a game. Ferris State will utilize their nationally ninth-ranked team defense (USCHO), which has allowed an average of only 2.23 goals a game this season.

“Coming into this, it’s anybody’s game. But really when it comes down to it, it’s going to be the heart and the will that a team has to seek that victory that will make the biggest difference [in the tournament],” Thompson said.

FSU is one of five schools from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association to be selected to play in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan, Michigan State, Miami (Ohio) and Western Michigan will also compete in the tournament.

The other matchup in the Midwest Regional will showcase top-seeded Michigan against fourth-seeded Cornell. The puck will drop at 9 p.m. for the two teams.

The winners of each game in the Midwest Regional Semifinals will square off in the regional finale with a berth in the 2012 Frozen Four on the line March 24 at 9 p.m.

Winners from each region will advance to the 2012 Frozen Four in Tampa, Fl. The semifinal round of the Frozen Four will be held April 5. The two teams to advance to the championship game will faceoff April 7
at 7 p.m.