Pickin’ up the pace

Bulldog hockey sets sights on securing home ice in second half of the season

The Bulldogs are currently in sixth place in the WCHA standings with a 6-8-2 conference record. The top eight teams qualify for the conference playoffs at the end of the year, with the top four earning home-ice advantage. Photo by: Andrea Cordes | Torch Photographer

Ferris State hockey’s winter break has come and gone as the program looks toward the playoffs with high hopes in mind.

As of Friday, Jan. 6, Ferris State sits at the number six seed in the WCHA. The top eight teams in the con- ference during the regular season will go on to play in the postseason.

The Bulldog team has higher goals than just making the playoffs according to sophomore forward Corey Mackin.

“Our main focus, I would say, is getting home ice advantage,” Mackin said. “We believe we can turn it around and win a lot of games in the second half and we are hoping to do so.”

Mackin scored the team’s lone goal just 14 seconds into the game in a 1-1 tie during the consolation game of the Three Rivers Classic tournament Friday, Dec. 30, against Boston College, the sixth-ranked team in the nation. The Dawgs fell to Robert Morris University 0-1 before entering the consolation game against Boston College.

“We play some teams that are behind in the second half, but I believe most teams we are playing, we are chasing, so those are the really important games,” Mackin said. “But we know we have to come into every game like we are playing the same team.”

Ferris freshman goaltender Justin Kapelmaster turned in a great performance against Boston College Friday, Dec. 30, with 58 saves on 59 shots.

Should the Dawgs lock in another playoff berth, Kapelmaster said it would be a huge personal accom- plishment to contribute to a long playoff run in his first year as a Bulldog.

“Making the playoffs is huge at any level. The regular season is one thing, but playoffs are a different animal,” Kapelmaster said. “You get the best from every team you play and you know everybody is going to bring it every single night.”

The Dawgs have a date on the road with the top team in the WCHA, Bemidji State, in late January followed by a series in early February with second ranked Michigan Tech on the road as well. This presents Ferris hockey with tough opportunities to get wins against the top teams of the conference.

Junior forward Drew Dorantes is confident that the team can pick up the pace after a slow start to the season for the Dawgs with a few tweaks.

“Right now we are making sure we’re hitting the tape on every pass. It’s such a little thing but it makes an incredible difference in creating offense,” Dorantes said. “Our power play has been scoring recently which has improved since the start of the year.”

The Dawgs weren’t able to snag a win until their ninth game of the sea- son. After their first win, the Dawgs went on a bit of a run with victories over Bowling Green State, Michigan State and a weekend sweep over Lake Superior State.

“Going into the second half, we approach it as a new year with a clean slate,” Dorantes said. “We know we have the ability to sweep weekends and we have that opportunity in the second half.”

The Dawgs are back in action 7:07 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at Ewigleben Ice Arena against Alaska. The second game of the series will go down the following night.