Ferris State is just hours from puck drop against the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves as the WCHA Final Five gets underway at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.
The Seawolves are coming off a stretch where they have won three of their last five, all on the road at rival Alaska Fairbanks, including a first round playoff victory over the Nanooks.
Head Coach Bob Daniels will counter the Seawolves with the same lines he’s run onto the ice for the last two series, with one change.
Senior forward Justin DeMartino will be sidelined this weekend after having his appendix out. DeMartino is the second Ferris player in the last three weeks to have his appendix out; junior defensemen Jason Binkley was the other.
Junior forward Dominic Panetta will fill in on the bottom line with freshman centerman Kyle Schempp and sophomore forward Dakota Klecha.
On Feb. 21-22, the Seawolves came to Big Rapids and were swept in back-to-back two goal games.
Despite the scores, Anchorage put 71 shots on net, causing Ferris junior goaltender and Hobey Baker top ten finalist CJ Motte to work hard throughout the series.
The Seawolves have a few high flying scorers of note. Senior forward Matt Bailey posted 20 goals during the 2013-14 season, and junior forward Scott Allen followed closely with 17.
In between the pipes, the Bulldogs saw both Anchorage goaltenders in Rob Gunderson and Chris Kamal. Gunderson started 20 games and struggled with a .906 save percentage, and Kamal wasn’t much better. The senior backup stopped pucks at just an .894 clip.
For perspective, Motte has a .928 save percentage which is tops in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Motte is also second in goals allowed average and first in winning percentage among goaltenders.
Anchorage is coming off a four-win 2012-13 campaign, in which they bounced back for 18 victories during the 2013-14 season.
Regular season conference champions Ferris State finished the regular season 20-6-2 in WCHA-play and is 27-9-3 overall.
On a different sheet of ice, Ferris will have a de facto home ice advantage. Fans filled more than four charter buses to make the 50-mile trip to Grand Rapids.
Though Ferris will bring a large crop of fans to Van Andel, the ice surface itself will provide a different look.
The home of the Grand Rapids Griffins is NHL regulation size, where Ewigleben Ice Arena is several feet narrower than a regulation rink.
The rink also plays with the shallow NHL sized nets, which allows for more space behind the net for play.
The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. EST.