In a weekend full of ups and downs for Ferris State hockey fans, the overall experience in Cincinnati proved to be a positive.
For Ferris criminal justice senior Matt “Monkeyman” Leindecker, the time spent at US Bank Arena for the NCAA Men’s Midwest Regional Championship was both exciting and familiar.
“The whole weekend and the atmosphere of the games were unreal. The whole arena was packed with hockey fans,” Leindecker said. “It was another great chance to watch the Bulldogs work towards another trip to the National Championship game. Unfortunately, things didn’t go our way and luck just wasn’t on our side.”
In the first round of the Midwest Regional semi-final, the Bulldogs pulled out a 1-0 victory against Colgate behind the strong play of goaltender CJ Motte.
“CJ was playing unreal,” Leindecker said. “It was an interesting game, but once that first goal went in, we all felt like it was one of the most complete games Ferris had played all year. The team looked really comfortable out there and all it took was just one shot, that one goal, to win it.”
In the final round of the Midwest Regional, the Bulldogs faced the fourth seeded North Dakota Fighting Sioux, a team that knocked off the number one seed of the bracket, the Wisconsin Badgers. The Sioux defeated the Badgers 5-2 on March 28 to reach the title game.
“Coming into the title game, I had the feeling that this was going to be our year,” Leindecker said. “I felt like we really lucked out getting to play the four seed instead of Wisconsin, and the way CJ was playing I felt like we couldn’t lose. The only question was who was going to be the hero tonight? Everyone was just waiting and waiting; everyone was on the edge of their seats. We just needed one shot to go our way and it just didn’t happen. Luck just wasn’t on our side.”
Leindecker also followed the team two years ago on their journey to the Division I Men’s National Championship Game against Boston College. Leindecker said the experience in the tournament this year was similar, but in many ways different than two years ago.
“Compared to two years ago, the fan base we traveled with was huge and I definitely think it gave us a big advantage,” Leindecker said. “Everyone was still sort of getting to know Ferris this year, just like two years ago. People kept asking where Ferris State is [located]. I think people know about us now.”
Being a senior, Leindecker said it was extremely difficult to see the season come to an end, but the overall experience of the weekend in Cincinnati was great.
“Overall, it was a great time,” Leindecker said. “It was impossible to find a fan who wasn’t enjoying their time there. It was a great time and I made a lot of memories that I’ll never forget and it was a fun time overall.”
Ferris State finished the season with a 29-11-3 record, which is marked as the second most wins in Ferris State hockey history.