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Exam Week

The Dawg’s face their biggest test this season

by Published: Dec 10, 2013

Outside Ewigleben, the snow con­tin­ued to pum­mel Big Rapids into arc­tic oblivion.

Meanwhile, the nation’s #4 hockey team qui­etly took the ice for their Tuesday night skate just beyond six p.m. that pre­ceded a match up of titanic proportions.

On Wednesday, December 11, the Ferris State Bulldogs will travel to Ann Arbor’s his­toric Yost Arena for a road test against the nation’s #3 hockey team, the University of Michigan.

It’s an appro­pri­ately timed exam­i­na­tion in the midst of exam week. Even hockey teams have to undergo big tests at this point of the season.

Ferris State is rid­ing a nation lead­ing 13 game unbeaten streak, dur­ing which they are 11−0−2, and 8−0−2 in con­fer­ence play.

Despite the streak, the Bulldog’s looked wholly focused on the eve of their reunion with a for­mer CCHA rival.

Head Coach Bob Daniels got straight down to busi­ness, talk­ing fore-check strat­egy in front of the Ferris penalty box. There was no dra­matic pre­lude for the Dogs, just rou­tine work.

“Although it’s non-conference, it has a bear­ing on our RPI and national rank­ings,” Daniels said. “Our one true barom­e­ter is how we’re doing in the WCHA that’s impor­tant to us.”

RPI, or rat­ings per­cent­age index, is a tool used by poll mak­ers to deter­mine how strong a team really is despite their record. It’s based on win­ning per­cent­age, win­ning per­cent­age of oppo­nents, and win­ning per­cent­age of the oppo­nents of their opponents.

RPI is used to deter­mine whether or not a team will get a chance to play in the National Tournament. Ferris is cur­rently #4 in National RPI at .6074.

Ferris has got­ten off to their tor­rid 13−2−2 start largely because their surge of sec­ondary scor­ing. Sophomore for­ward Matt Robertson will enter the Michigan game hav­ing scored a goal in seven straight games, and eight overall.

“A lot of it’s because of my line mates,” Robertson said. “I’ve been lucky to play with guys at the top of their game.”

His 2013–14 pro­duc­tion is 800% higher in the goal scor­ing col­umn than it was last year, when he had just one goal all of last season.

“Realistically we’re get­ting a lot of pro­duc­tion from three lines, and some­times four with [Gerald] Mayhew,” Daniels said. “We’re for­tu­nate to have a lot of depth on our team in scoring.”

Daniels was ini­tially ner­vous that the team might lack offen­sive punch at the begin­ning of the season.

The for­mula for vic­tory is to sim­ply score goals and not allow them. Ferris is num­ber five in the nation in team offense, and num­ber 11 in team defense. Their 47 con­fer­ence goals lead the next clos­est team, Bemidji State, by 10. Along with that, they’re shar­ing the wealth. Nine play­ers have more than 10 points this season,

The bat­tle reaches beyond the rank­ings, in one case it’s brother on brother bat­tle. Michigan fresh­men for­ward Tyler Motte will face off with his older brother, junior goal­tender CJ Motte. Motte has a 13−0−2 record this sea­son, and is the national leader among goal­tenders in win­ning percentage.

Tyler Motte has five goals, and has played in every one of Michigan’s 13 games.

It is with­out doubt that a win on the road in one of col­lege hockey’s larger venues could pro­pel Ferris into the top three in next week’s national polls, and pos­si­bly to the num­ber two spot.

It’s another big time pro­gram that the Bulldog’s will be charged to han­dle. 12 Wolverines are tied to an NHL team. Ferris does not have one.

That real­ity was off­set in the most recent national poll, where Ferris received three first place votes. Michigan received none.

“We’re know they’re good and they’re fast,” cap­tain and senior defense­men Scott Czarnowczan said. “We know how they play but when it comes down to it, it’s just another game.”

Last sea­son, Ferris went 1−1−2 against the Blue, with two shootout losses. Their lone vic­tory came at home in a 5–0 white­wash on Nov. 30.

The puck drops at Yost at 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 11.