After a hard-earned overtime victory followed by a tough loss in New York against St. Lawrence, the Ferris State hockey team comes home this weekend to host their own two-game gauntlet against the undefeated Michigan Tech Huskies.
This matchup will mark the opening of WCHA play for the Bulldogs, who will hope to both climb the conference standings and achieve retribution after suffering their first loss of the season. If the Bulldogs can sweep Michigan Tech this weekend, Ferris State will be top Dawg in the WCHA.
“We have to take it game by game. Come Friday, we’ll come out and play our game hard and fast and as long as we do that both games, I feel confident that we can win both this weekend,” sophomore forward Kyle Schempp said.
This Friday will mark the first time that Michigan Tech has played a game in three weeks. While this extended break allows for ample practice time and opponent scouting, it does have its drawbacks.
“Sometimes those long breaks off without any games leave you less prepared. By playing all the games that we have we are prepared for game action whereas they may still be in practice mode,” junior defenseman Simon Denis said.
Michigan Tech has scored five goals in each of their two games. Needless to say, the Ferris State defense have their work cut out for them. The Bulldogs will look to exploit the Huskies’ lengthy hiatus by striking early and often offensively while also staying true to their customary stingy defense to cool off the Michigan Tech offense.
“It’s going to be important for us to jump on them early because of their long break between games. We have to play strong in the defensive zone and that will lead us to more offensive opportunities. They have a very skilled team, so shutting them down offensively is important,” Denis said.
Playing before a home crowd full of fanatical students and alumni should help the Bulldogs to get this early push that they need to capitalize on Michigan Tech’s lack of recent game action.
“We can feel the energy out there from the student section and they’re there every night. We appreciate everything that they do and it wouldn’t be the same without them,” team captain and senior goalie C.J. Motte said. “I know that it’s harder for opposing teams to come here and play with a student section like we have.”
Last year, the Bulldogs clashed with the Huskies four times, with each team allowed two opportunities at home. The Dawgs were 3-1 against the Huskies last year, and hope to continue their success against their rivals up north.
“I think it should be pretty similar to last season. Tech played us really hard last year, and I believe they’ll do the same this year,” Schempp said. “They have a really veteran team and it’s going to be a hard-fought battle, but as long as we stick to our game we should come out with similar results to last seasons.”
Following this weekend, the WCHA standings may look very different. Ferris State could take first place in the conference and carry that steam into their next two-game series against Michigan State in East Lansing.