Season of highlights for FSU hockey
by Bob Allan
Pioneer Sports Editor (Mar. 19, 1998)
BIG RAPIDS -- Ferris State hockey coach Bob Daniels thought one year ago was an important time for his program.
The Bulldogs failed to make the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs and there was concern about how the kids were going to react.
Daniels shouldn't have been worried. FSU finished with 15 wins overall, the most since the 1992-93 year and was 12-15-3 in the CCHA. The 27 points was good enough for eighth place.
Those were some of the highlights for the Bulldog coach. "I was impressed with our record against the upper division teams," Daniels said of his winning records against Northern Michigan, Miami and Lake Superior State as well as 1-1-1 against Michigan. "That shows we are very close.
"The way we played Michigan State in the playoffs bodes well for the future -- both games we could have won," he added.
Other highlights of the season, according to Daniels was getting to the finals of the Pepsi Invitational, Kevin Swider making the All-Rookie team and Jim Dube making honorable mention and 14 players scoring double digits on the year.
But, none of it would have been possible if it wasn't for the hard work during the summer.
"Last summer was important and they came through real well," Daniels said. "That was a time to rebound and compete in the league and I give a lot of credit to Jeff (Blashill) and Brett (Colborne) a lot of credit for their leadership."
It was a win in Alaska which Daniels thought the team gained the confidence they needed for the second half of the year. The Bulldogs trailed late in the game, 4-3, before scoring a goal late in regulation and winning in overtime.
The game started a stretch for FSU where they went 7-3 and put themselves in contention for home ice.
Though they came up short in gaining home ice, Daniels believes he knows what it will take for his team to be in the top four in the CCHA. "We are going to have to gut out three to five more wins next year," he said. "There were a number of games where we could have won."
Helping next year's team will be a standout recruiting class. It is the fourth straight recruiting class Daniels feels strongly about.
But, once again, the summer is going to hold key. "The key ingredient is how they work starting Monday until they reconvene in August," Daniels said.
The 10 juniors will give the Bulldogs a strong senior class, something Ferris State hasn't experienced in a couple of seasons. Next year will be up to them in determining season and team goals.
"It is up to them how they want the season to be special," Daniels said. "Our seniors need to come together with one common goal."
What Daniels is probably the most proud of in his team is the way his players handle themselves off the ice. The overall GPA of the team is over 3.1 and our good kids off the ice.
"We didn't have one ounce of trouble -- the kids are good in the community and in the classroom," he said.