A 38-game season that took place over the last five months has come to an end as the Ferris hockey team fell to Bowling Green State University in the opening round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) playoffs.
It was the second straight year the Bulldogs were eliminated by the Falcons in the quarterfinals, both years seeing the Bulldogs swept in two games.
This year saw the Bulldogs struggle to piece wins together after a hot month of November, going just 5-12-0 to close out the regular season after wining their first three games of December.
“There was a leak at times in the year because of the results and there were times where I felt those results weren’t going our way,” Head Coach Bob Daniels said. “We weren’t playing as good as I thought our team could but through the guys hard work and senior leadership, I thought they played their best hockey down the stretch and they grew a lot as a team.”
Though Ferris went into the matchup with BGSU as the heavy underdogs, the depleted Bulldog lineup played much better than most would have expected heading into the series.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries this year and a lot of the young guys stepped up. Guys not playing much stepped up, it was an all-around team game. I thought we really started playing well at the end of the year,” Ferris junior captain Corey Mackin said.
Just two years removed from the 2016 WCHA tournament championship and a NCAA regional final appearance, the Bulldogs failed to get past the first round for the second straight year.
Despite the lack of postseason success over the past two years, the Bulldogs feel that a core group of veteran players in the locker room have helped set the tone for the future of the program.
“First of all, we just have to thank our seniors. They worked so hard and they set a standard of how hard we should work and they did a really great job at that. We just got to have that mindset going into the summer and into next year and just continue working hard and outworking the other teams,” Mackin said.
Despite the past two seasons, that senior group was a decorated one at Ferris, leading the Bulldogs to that conference championship and NCAA tournament run during their sophomore campaign.
“It’s been amazing. It’s been four great years and have probably met my best friends in life. It’s been a blast. I thank the coaching staff and the community and everybody that allowed me to come here and really live my dream,” Ferris senior Zach Szajner said. “A lot of kids wake up in the morning and say I want to play college hockey and I got to do that, and I’m just thankful that it was here and with the group of guys I was able to do it with.”
With that foundation set in stone, it’s now time for the Bulldogs to get back on top of the WCHA and establish themselves as one of the best in the NCAA again next season.
Until then, the Bulldogs will have a long summer to sit and let this season marinate with them.
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