Ferris hockey finished their season with a record of 1 – 23 -1 , their worst record in program history and worst record in all of college hockey for the 2020 – 2021 season.
The Bulldogs entered the WCHA playoffs 1 – 21 – 1 and lost their final two games against the Minnesota State Mavericks in the WCHA playoffs to close their season. They had a difficult test facing the nationally third ranked Mavericks and were unable to pull off an underdog victory.
Despite the historically poor season, head coach Bob Daniels was proud of the way his team fought in the playoffs.
“I was really happy with how the guys mentally and emotionally and physically were in tune and into the series,” Daniels said. “I thought they played really hard and I was happy with everything but the loss.”
The first playoff matchup was on Friday, March 12. Both defenses started strong as neither team scored in the first period, and the Mavericks recorded just seven shots on goal compared to four for Ferris. Ferris also killed a penalty in the period.
The second period was also a defensive effort and the game remained scoreless heading into the third period. At the end of the second period, the Mavericks had 17 shots on goal and the Bulldogs had 15. Daniels credited his team’s strong defensive play to spending more time in the Maverick’s end of the ice and limiting their offensive opportunities.
The Mavericks scored the first goal of the night with 11 minutes to go in the third period on a power play. Bulldog sophomore defenseman Max Finner was penalized for holding, allowing the Mavericks to take a 1-0 lead on the power play.
A minute later, Minnesota State scored again to take a 2 – 0 lead. They would hold that lead until 4:30 remained in the game when they scored again. Daniels challenged the goal for potential goaltender interference on the Mavericks, but the goal stood, and Minnesota State took the first game in a best-of-three series with a score of 3 – 0.
For Maverick goalie Dryden McKay, it was his ninth shutout of the season, and his second against the Bulldogs. It was also his 23rd collegiate shutout, three shy of former Michigan State goaltender Ryan Miller’s all-time Division I college hockey record of 26.
Ferris got 24 saves from freshman goaltender Logan Stein in the game.
After the game, Daniels spoke on what his team needed to do to get a win in game two and take the Mavericks to a third game.
“We got it down to two things we feel we can clean up going into tomorrow: one was I felt we got a little sloppy in our breakouts. That can get solved very quickly. The second thing is our response to when the other team scores. Sometimes we get caught up in our own zone and maybe feel a little sorry for ourselves. Our response has to be stronger when they score,” Daniels said.
“I liked our play through two-and-a-half periods, we were as good we were all year. We’re close, and we don’t have a lot to clean up, so I feel pretty confident going into tomorrow.”
In Game 2 on Saturday, March 13, the Mavericks scored the first goal of the night at 9:03 in the second period. Unlike the night before, Ferris allowed the Mavericks to score just once in the period. The Bulldogs matched the Maverick’s shot count in the second period with 10 apiece, but Minnesota State was able to capitalize with a goal and take a 1 – 0 lead into the third period.
The Mavericks scored again early in the third period to take a 2 – 0 lead. Ferris answered back with their first goal of the series on a power play with seven minutes remaining. Senior forward Marshall Moise scored and was assisted by senior forward Coale Norris and freshman forward Stepan Pokorny.
Daniels said his team did “terrific” responding to the Mavericks’ goals on Saturday.
“We really responded well,” Daniels said. “Last night when they scored, they scored again a minute later. That didn’t happen tonight. The response was really good. I’m really happy and appreciative of the guys’ effort. We pretty much played this team even, and they’re a darn good team.”
With just under one minute to play in the third period and trailing 2-1, the Bulldogs pulled their goalie and the Mavericks scored on the empty net to take a 3-1 lead, a lead they would hold for the rest of the game.
Junior goaltender Roni Salmenkangas got the start in goal for the Bulldogs in Game 2 and recorded 28 saves in the game.
For the season, Ferris averaged 2.2 goals per game, up from 2.0 a season ago. However, they took 24 shots per game, down from 26.7 last year. Defensively, they allowed nearly four goals per game this year, up from 3.47 a season ago. Last season, the Bulldogs killed the power play 82% of the time compared to just 73% this season. They improved on their own power play success, scoring on 19.4% of their power play opportunities this season compared to 14.5% last year.
This season left a lot to be desired for Daniels and his team, but that never shook Daniels’ optimism and confidence in his team. He is excited to have a structured offseason and looks forward to working with his young players.
“I’m looking forward to the summer of conditioning,” Daniels said. “We’re going to get right after it and start our spring and summer conditioning program. We haven’t had the chance with our freshman because of COVID to get them into Division I condition. I think they gained a lot of experience this year, but now it’s time to get them into Division I shape.”
Despite the record this season, Daniels feels the future is bright for his young team. When the Bulldogs take the ice next season, they will try to record Ferris’s first winning season since 2015 – 2016.