Though many students were homeward bound following exam week, the Ferris State hockey team was still able to capture two conference victories against Lake Superior State before a sizable turn out from the community on Dec. 12 and 13.
On both nights, the Bulldogs effectively spread the puck around offensively and scored five goals per contest off the stick of eight different skaters. Senior goaltender CJ Motte was also recognized as one of the games three stars in both games of the series, having accumulated an even 50 saves over the weekend including a shutout.
Following a short break for the holidays, the Bulldogs reconvened on Christmas Day in Big Rapids for practice, and will travel to Detroit on Dec. 27 as they take part in the 50th installment of the Great Lakes Invitational hosted at the historic Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI.
This year will go down in Bulldog history as the first time they were offered a bid in the celebrated tournament. According to Head Coach Bob Daniels, it is pivotal that Ferris State draw a good crowd to the game in order to potentially earn more frequent invitations in the future.
Having been in conference with Michigan State and Michigan until 2013, Ferris was overlooked. The two teams normally in the tournament were looking to add an out of conference flavor. Now in the WCHA, Ferris received a bid in their second season away from the CCHA.
The tournament hosts, Michigan Tech, are nationally ranked No. 5 in the country according to USCHO.com’s latest poll, and are atop the WCHA with a 10-2-0 record. Ferris recently pulled into fourth in the WCHA with a 6-4-0 conference record.
The single-game elimination tournament pits Ferris State against Michigan State to open the tournament, who they have already split a series with earlier in the season. This rematch against the Spartans will serve as both a tie-breaker for the two teams, and a means to advance to the GLI Finals against the victor of a Michigan vs. Michigan Tech matchup.
The losers of both games will face off in the early game on Monday, December 29, with the victors of the two games playing the night cap.
Interestingly, the Bulldogs have played every team involved in the tournament at least once already this season. They hold a combined 2-3 record against these teams. However, as the season progresses so too do the teams, and the Dawgs are hoping to build on the momentum that they’ve acquired as of late. Over their last five games, the Bulldogs have evened the ship, going 3-1-1.
Of the five times that Ferris State has played the teams also in the tournament, the game was decided by more than one goal only once, which occurred in a 4-1 loss to Michigan State back on Nov. 1. If these past matchups are any implication of what is to come in the tournament, the Dawgs will be in store for some nailbiters.
Conference foe Michigan tech took 1-0 and 2-1 victories in Big Rapids, with the 1-0 loss on Oct. 24 coming due to a goal that Ferris scored on themselves on a broken play behind CJ Motte.
Three teams stand between the Bulldogs and that coveted trophy, and the puck will drop for the first Ferris game against the Spartans Dec. 28 at 7:00 p.m. in Joe Louis Arena.
Tickets are still available to all four games on Ticketmaster and various other sites.