For the preview of Ferris State, I brought in MartyTurco35 from The Wolverine, who gets to an awful lot of FSU games.
So I know we had talked before about the early departure of Mitch O'Keefe. It's never a good thing to lose your would-be senior goalie, when he put up the kind of numbers that O'Keefe did as a junior. I see that Nelson and Nagle have played similar amounts of games and their numbers are relatively equal as well. Do you have a preference, and have they been splitting throughout or has one asserted himself as the guy for the stretch run?
Mitch O'Keefe was a big loss, but you have to remember he basically split 50/50 with freshmen Pat Nagle until the 2nd round of the CCHA playoffs so there is experience there. Nagle has the talent and experience to carry the load, but Taylor Nelson was the 4th best goalie in North America according to Inside College Hockey. You just can't have him ride pine when he's ready to play right now (pretty much the same scenario with O'Keefe and Nagle last year). I don't really have a preference for either, because I have been high on both all season, and for the future. If I had to pick one though I would go with Nelson. Most CCHA teams have got to see both goalies, and I expect Michigan will be no different.
Who's been the team MVP this season? No one has huge goal or point totals, so it's not easy to pick one out by looking at the stats. How bout the most dangerous offensive guy? Most improved?
MVP: Sophomore defensemen Zach Redmond. He is a ATL draft pick, and 2nd on the team in points. He joins the rush frequently, and can put pucks in the net. Think JMFJ minus the big hits, and youtube videos.
Dangerous: Senior Brendan Connolly. He's a little guy, but has the speed and hands to score. He has 25 points which isn't jaw dropping, but that would be higher if he didn't live in the penalty box.
Most Improved: Senior Corey Couturier. Was always a hard worker, and good skater, but his hard work is actually showing up on the score sheet.
Any injuries of note?
You picked Ferris to finish 6th in the CCHA before the season and here they are just one point out of that slot with a couple games to play (and without the phony-baloney shootout points, they're tied for sixth). Has this season gone the way you thought it would? I know you were pretty incredulous about the losses to Canisius and Bobby Mo earlier in the season (I believe the exact words were "embarrassed the conference") but have you been disappointed in the rest of the season?
No, it hasn't gone the way I thought. Like you mentioned I said 6th, but deep down I really thought it would be higher. Last year they won 18 games, returned 14 of their best 15 players statistically from that team, and on top of that added the 15th best recruiting class nationally. How does this team lose to Canisius, St. Lawrence, Western, etc? I know the fluke games happen in hockey, but that many?
The Bulldogs might have a couple of bad losses, but they've also played the top teams relatively tough: They're just 1-7-2 against the "quality opponents" on their schedule, but: a win and a shootout loss to Miami, a pair of losses to ND that were one goal games late in the third, a one-goal loss to surprising St Lawrence, a quartet of one-goal losses to Alaska (one had an ENG). a shootout loss to OSU...Just not quite good enough to get over the hump? Has the goalie had to play out of his mind to keep FSU in those games or do they usually bring some good, but not quite good enough, efforts?
Those games listed above basically explain this team: They play to their competition. I think that 1-7-2 record is a bit deceiving though. For example, they outplayed ND both nights but Jordan Pearce only allows 1 goal all weekend. Another example is OSU when Dustin Carlson had 47 saves.
The goaltending effort, and whole defensive unit for that matter has been very dependable and solid all year. I just read that in Taylor Nelson's last 8 appearances he is 1-4-2 with a 1.99 GAA. I think that speaks for itself. The reason they can't get over the hump is because they can't score goals.
Ferris has seen five shootouts in conference play. Do you think it works in the college game? Should the CCHA keep it?
Absolutely! I will say I hate how it messes with the CCHA standings, but you can't deny the entertainment it brings. The shootouts I've witnessed just make the atmosphere that much more exciting. I love it. I hope the rest of the country takes notice of this. If you get all the conferences on board you could possibly have 4 on 4 in OT, and instead of these dumb shootout points you can actually get credit for a win.
I always think of FSU as kind of a bunch of goons. Still that way?
No, I believe you are thinking of FYS. (That's true...I guess we do kind of need to rethink use of the word "goon" since FYS took it to a new level this year.) Seriously though, I think their style of play gives people that assumption. They are blue collar, and like to grind it out. On the other hand, you can tell me that stats don't lie because Ferris ranks 1st in the CCHA by a mile in PIM's, and last time I checked they were also No. 1 in the nation.
Prediction on the weekend? And if you like Michigan to sweep, does Ferris hang on to home ice in the first round (Western has BGSU and sits three points back)?
Ferris will have the benefit of a sold out, wild crowd going for them. On top of that will be playing for their seniors for the last time, BUT I will go with a U-M sweep. If U-M does sweep my gut feeling says Ferris will keep home ice, but how this season has went nothing would shock me.
P.S. - I really hope to see Sauer start at Yost, and finish on a high note!