In an off-season full of changes, Ferris State’s hockey team has been hard at work preparing for the fall.
The Bulldogs will be returning to the ice for the 2017-18 season without four key contributors from last year’s team, as forwards Gerald Mayhew, Chad McDonald, Jared VanWormer and defenseman Ryan Lowney have graduated.
“Those four guys really helped us a lot,” said Ferris junior forward Corey Mackin. “It’s definitely going to be a big loss but we’ve got a good group coming in with our freshmen and we have a good older group, so I think we’re going in with confidence next year.”
Gerald Mayhew led them in scoring the past three seasons, while the offensive touch of Chad McDonald complemented Mayhew. Jared VanWormer also brought some scoring while captaining the team last season.
“Up front, we’re losing three guys that were really integral parts of our team,” said head coach Bob Daniels. “We need some of the under-classmen now to raise their game. Some of the incoming freshmen we feel can step in and score as well.”
Defenseman Ryan Lowney’s leadership will be missed on the back end for the Bulldogs, as he helped lead a young defensive core that saw many new faces in lineup last season.
The Bulldogs finished fifth in the conference with a 13-19-5 record last season, before falling to Bowling Green State in the first round of the WCHA (Western Collegiate Hockey Association) playoffs, just a year removed from a post-season WCHA championship and Elite Eight trip in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) tournament.
“We were disappointed with our season,” Daniels said. “We’re not happy with fifth, we want to penetrate deeper in the playoffs and we want to do better in non-conference play. We have our eyes set on bigger things.”
The Bulldogs will look to players like junior forward and former WCHA Rookie of the Year winner Corey Mackin to help replace the offense that graduated, while also receiving experienced help from transfer players in junior defenseman Zach Yoder and junior forward Jasen Fernsler.
Ferris will have some depth in between the pipes with junior and former WCHA Final Five MVP Darren Smith returning to share the crease with sophomore Justin Kapelmaster. Kapelmaster led the Bulldogs last season with a 10-4-3 record along with his 2.22 goals against average and .930 save percentage.
“We can play either goalie and our team won’t change its confidence,” said Mackin. “We know both of them are great goalies. It will be very good for our team to have two starting goalies pretty much and it will be huge for our confidence.”
The depth in net and gained experience on the back end will help push the charge for the Bulldogs next season. The team aims to bounce back from a disappointing season with another championship run.
“I want us to be successful as a team,” Yoder said. “I want toseeuswintheWCHAandIwanttowinitall.Asateam that’s our goal, we want to win it. It would be huge.”
The Bulldogs are set to return to the ice on Friday, October 6 at Western Michigan before hosting the Broncos Saturday, October 7 at Ewigleben Ice Arena.