The seniors of Bulldog hockey have carved up college ice for the last time but not without leaving their mark on the way out.
Defensemen Brandon Anselmini, Simon Denis, Sean O’Rourke and Zach Dorer, along with forwards Matt Robertson, Kenny Babinski and goalie Ruben Medrano have all laced up their skates for the final time under the Bulldog banner. All seven players will graduate from Ferris State this spring. These men helped the Dawgs to their first conference tournament championship in the team’s history in 2016.
Denis has the most history as a Dawg as the last man at Ferris from the historic 2011-2012 team that reached the national championship game. Denis recently signed a pro contract with the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL. He expects great things from the remaining Bulldogs.
“The team at Ferris is in very good hands,” said Denis. “There are a lot of good leaders in that locker room along with high quality players that are going to help the program succeed for years to come. It’s hard to believe that I won’t be a part of it after so many years, but I have the utmost confidence in every guy on the team to continue to grow the program.”
As a member of the Komets, Denis joins former Bulldogs Garrett Thompson, Pat Nagle and Mike Embach. Thompson is known among the Bulldog faithful for scoring the only national championship game goal in the history of the hockey program.
Denis is not the only Dawg to sign the dotted line on a pro contract. Babinski signed his contract with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces.
Along with the departing seniors, junior Bulldog Captain Kyle Schempp has also played his last game for the Bulldogs, and has signed a two-year entry-level contract the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the NHL’s New York Islanders organization.
Head coach Bob Daniels told ferrisstatebulldogs.com that he and the rest of the program are going to miss the seniors.
“These kids have come a long way,” said Daniels. “I think back to when they were freshmen and I remember the banquet that year, a lot of the seniors got up and spoke and said, ‘I don’t know about this freshmen class,’ but they were young and immature at that point, but boy they came on and really gave us an awful lot to be proud of.”
Ferris freshman goalie Darren Smith, deemed the nation’s top rookie netminder of the 2015-2016 season by College Hockey News, said the men leaving the team played a big role in making his first year easier.
“Kyle [Schempp] and the seniors were obviously a big part of our team,” said Smith. “They led the team and were great role models for us younger guys. They definitely helped me out a lot this year, making my transition from juniors to college hockey a lot easier. They gave me confidence at the beginning of the year when I didn’t have that much experience at the college level.”
As for the future of Bulldog hockey, Denis talked about the many positives that potential recruits would gain from playing hockey for Ferris State.
“The draw of playing for a championship contender is very big,” said Denis. “To have the opportunity to win a championship year in and out with the opportunity at NCAA tournaments are huge. Also, the coaching staff here really helps players grow to be the people they want to be, not only as a hockey player, but as a person. You can see the track record that’s there with good hockey players, but to see the success that come to players that move into the real world is tremendous.”