Untapped potential

Bulldogs begin 2012 season with series against RPI

Crossing Sticks: Ferris State center Matthew Kirzinger plays the puck close to his skates while trying to keep it away from a Ryerson Rams defender. The Bulldogs would go 0-1-1 for the weekend against RPI. Photo By: Brock Copus | Multimedia Editor
The 2012 national runner up Ferris men’s ice hockey team took to the ice for the opening series of the season against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, N.Y.

A lot has changed for the Bulldogs since last season’s run to the Frozen Four. Ferris will be playing without the service of last season’s eight seniors, two of which were named All-American.

Seven of last year’s senior Bulldog skaters found professional teams in the American Hockey League or out of country leagues to ink with and begin their career as professional hockey players.

This year the Bulldogs will rely on youth and energy in their search of repeated Central Collegiate Hockey Association championship quality performance and a run at the NCAA National championship.

“We are a young team, but really skilled. I think you’re going to see an up-tempo team with a lot of potential [this year],” Bulldog captain and senior forward Kyle Bonis stated.

Ferris, who was ranked 14th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine pre-season rankings, played the Engineers in the first game of the series Oct. 12.

The Bulldogs flew out of the gate early, as freshman forward Dakota Klecha scored his first collegiate goal 1:32 into the game. Junior center Corey Kane and senior forward Eric Alexander touched the puck before Klecha buried home the first goal of the Bulldog season.

Unfortunately for Ferris, RPI’s goaltender Scott Diebold would make the next 30 saves for the Engineers and hold Ferris scoreless for the remainder of the game to give RPI a 3-1 victory.

“We played a little bit nervous. We have a lot of young guys, so maybe it was a little overwhelming with our new system,” Bonis said.

The second game of the weekend series, Oct. 13, started off slow for both teams evidenced by a nearly scoreless first period. Laliberte notched his second goal of the year for RPI on the power play with just over a minute remaining in the period.

It didn’t take long for Ferris to battle back, and with only 39 seconds gone in the second period, Bonis passed the puck across the ice to hit junior forward Garrett Thompson for Thompson’s first goal of the season to even the game up.

Each team would add one more goal in the final period and stalemate in the overtime period to play to a 2-2 tie.

Even with the changes the team has gone through in the past few months, the Bulldogs’ youth with 16 freshmen and sophomore skaters of the 26 student-athletes on the roster is not to be understated. Ferris hopes the nervousness will subside while they realize their talent to fill the shoes of the 2012 Bulldogs. Ferris will compete against five teams that made last season’s NCAA tournament 15 times throughout the course of this year.

Ferris opened the 2012-13 campaign with a 0-1-1 record. Ferris will prepare for a two-game home series against the Mercyhurst Lakers (Pa.) slated for Oct. 19-20. The Bulldogs will hang the banners earned last season in the Bulldogs’ home opener Oct. 19. Both games are scheduled to drop the puck at 7:05 p.m. in the Ewigleben Ice Arena.

“It’s exciting getting back into games, and this weekend when we raise the banners and get the rings, I think it’ll be a final tribute to last year’s team,” Bonis said.