In an unsurprising announcement, Ferris State hockey has joined the ranks of football, women’s soccer, and other sports in seeing their seasons delayed.
On Sept. 10, the WCHA announced that Division I college hockey, in general, would delay the start of their season, pushing it back from the initial start date of Oct. 3.
According to Coach Bob Daniels, the move was expected, leaving the team with little surprise when the announcement was finally made by the WCHA.
“I think they were pretty well prepared for it; I don’t think it gave them a surprise,” Daniels said. “You could kind of see it heading that way with the delay to the start of football and the GLIAC delaying all sports. All that was done before the announcement.”
This sentiment was shared by sophomore defenseman Brendan Rons who said that the entire team was remaining flexible throughout the whole situation.
“I think everyone is just going with the flow,” Rons said. “This has been going on since last spring break. It’s been kind of crazy, what’s going on in the whole world. Everyone knows it’s just kind of out of our control. Everyone’s just trying to stay ready the best we can.”
The Bulldogs have been increasing team activities over the last week, increasing more on-ice activities through the detailed strategy the athletic department put forth. The team is also strategizing to get activities restarted.
“We’re in a four-phase program that the athletic department has put forward,” Daniels said. “Phase one was where we did nothing for two weeks, get everyone here and get them tested. Now we’re at phase two where we’re working in small groups of like nine kids. The next phase for us would be introducing pucks onto the ice because right now we’re just on the ice doing conditioning. After that, we’ll try to integrate the whole team.”
The unique change of workouts has finally allowed for the athletes to do non-contact drills, something that Rons thought was good for everyone returning with varying levels of conditioning.
“Workouts this week have been going good,” Rons said. “Everyone’s just been trying to get back into shape after being in such weird situations over the summer. Guys didn’t have access to facilities such as rinks and gyms. The coaching staff wanted to ease into the workouts, just trying to get back into it.”
The focus for the team was not what was happening on the ice, but off it instead, citing the need to stay safe from the COVID-19 virus.
“Our job right now is to use our head and not expose the team or anyone else to the virus, so we want to focus,” Daniels said. “We appreciate the fact really that the decisions that were made were not to harm anyone, the decisions were made with the student’s best interest in mind along with the fans and the staff with the safety and precautions that are necessary.”
There isn’t a lot of certainty about when the season will get started but Daniels is hoping for some time in December. He understands that this may not be possible, though.
“Two words we throw around a lot is that you have to be fluid and you have to be flexible,” Daniels said.
That’s more important than flexibility is the ability to stay stringent on the COVID-19 protocols and recommendations. With athletes needing to be smart with their actions, one wrong move could put their teams’ respective season in jeopardy.
“What I think is important not just for our team for all the athletes is what they do away from the field because you can catch it anywhere, so you’ve got to use your head, avoid large gatherings, those types of things,” Daniels said. “We asked our players to use a lot of common sense, we’re all in this together.”
Be sure to stay tuned, as the new 2020-21 league schedule and details regarding the WCHA postseason tournament will be announced later this fall.