The Bulldog hockey team is having their worst start to a season in the past ten years, but is it a true measurement of the talent that is on this year’s hockey team?
Sitting at 6-17-1 and seven points behind a playoff spot in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), the future for the Bulldogs this year does not look the greatest. Looking at the numbers, the Bulldogs average 2.71 goals per game while giving up 3.62 goals per game, which is not the side that a winning team would be sitting on. Despite what everything on the score sheet says, I personally see a lot more than just a “losing team.”
Out of the 17 losses the team has suffered, eight of the losses were one goal games with four coming in overtime. Take away all of the one goal/overtime games and the Bulldogs are sitting at a record of 6-9- 1, which as a team with a growing young core is not too bad.
Sometimes losing may deter a team and put them in a rut, which is normal, but anytime the Bulldogs fall by a goal the night before, there is no skip in the step as they usually come out just as strong. When Ferris lost in a shootout against the Bowling Green Falcons Dec. 7, they did not hold back the next day. As a matter of fact, they scored the first goal of the game Dec. 8, even being on a seven game losing streak at the time. But as the game went back and forth during that night, the advantage went to Bowling Green in overtime after a few good breaks for the Falcons.
The Bulldogs are actually on track to score more goals than the previous 2017-18 season, as they scored 55 goals through 24 games and this year have scored 65 during that same period, but still have three fewer wins than the 2017-18 team. Although the team may seem like a bust, they are technically improving as the year goes on but it just goes unnoticed because all that matters is what the win/loss column looks like.
As the Bulldogs success this year may seem tarnished, there is some upside for the years to come.
With just five seniors leaving and seven freshmen that are already household names, there is hope that the future is bright. Ferris freshman defenseman Cooper Zech has been named WCHA Rookie of the week more than once as well as Rookie of the Month during December. Zech is also the team leader in assists as well as points. With a few more years ahead of him, Zech could be a standout player being recognized nationwide.
Another freshman with high hopes is goaltender Roni Salmenkangas. After coming in to relieve Justin Kapelmaster after an injury, the freshman surprised many with how well he played. As he started to get more consecutive starts, his play fell off a little bit which is normal for a freshman goaltender getting seven starts in a row. With room to grow and learn behind Kapelmaster, Salmenkangas also has a great future with the program.
Wins and losses determine success and failure but for this Bulldog team, there is much more that shows the potential they have.