Miami Faces Tough Test at #14 Ferris State
Fans around the CCHA had to be rejoicing when Pat Nagle finally exited the campus of Ferris State University after last season. Nagle, who finished in the top 5 in the nation last year in both goals against average (2.02) and save percentage (.923), capped his career in Big Rapids as one of the most dominating goaltenders in recent league history by earning first team All-CCHA and All-America honors.
Before fans could celebrate too much however, enter C.J. Motte, the nation’s top ranked college goaltending recruit who just happens to suit up between the same pipes as did Nagle at Ewigleben Ice Arena.
All Motte has done through his first two collegiate starts is go 2-0 with a microscopic 0.50 goals against average and ridiculous .977 save percentage. In addition, the “other” goaltender, senior Taylor Nelson, is no slouch. Nelson ranks third all-time at Ferris State in save percentage (.911) and goals-against average (2.55) in 39 career starts. He’s off to an equally impressive start as he sports a 1.01 GAA, .952 save percentage and is also a perfect 2-0.
In all, the Bulldogs have scored 15 goals in their first four games and allowed just three in sweeping ECAC opponents St. Lawrence and RPI.
Returning names of note familiar to Miami fans are junior super pest Travis Ouelette (5-0-5), who is also the team’s leading returning scorer (2010-11 numbers: 10-11-21), junior Kyle Bonis (5-1-6) and senior defensemen Chad Billins and Brett Wysopal.
Needless to say, Ferris State has been tough on Miami in recent years. The RedHawks have had a difficult time breaking longtime Bulldog head coach Bob Daniels trapping system that emphasizes defense first. However, with this year’s Miami squad being a little more offensively challenged than in past seasons, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. It’s no secret Miami is loaded with talent, especially speed up front, but how will the young forwards fare against a system designed to clog the neutral zone and slow the game down? Perhaps a more moderate pace could even help Miami and literally slow the game down a bit for them. Regardless, the RedHawks face a stiff challenge traveling for the second consecutive weekend to open league play against a top 15 opponent who always gets up for the red and white.
Overall, the RedHawks are 44-40-16 against the Bulldogs, including 20-20-9 in Big Rapids. Under head coach Rico Blasi, Miami is 16-9-6 against Ferris State. Last season Ferris beat Miami 3-2 on Friday while Miami salvaged a 1-1 tie on Saturday with the Bulldogs winning the
ridiculous CCHA mandated shootout. Miami swept the Bulldogs in Big Rapids in 2009-10, however en route to a dominating conference regular season title.
Weekend Prediction – Let’s light the lantern at least once this weekend.
Friday – Ferris 2-1
Saturday – Miami 2-1