Confidence key for Ferris State hockey

BIG RAPIDS — Confidence is a fleeting thing, and Ferris State hockey coach Bob Daniels knows it.

His Bulldogs have lost five out of their last six heading into its two-game home showdown with Colgate this weekend, while the Raiders are undefeated in their last seven contests.

UP THE ICE: Ferris State's Garrett Thompson (left) gets around a Lake Superior State defender in hockey action earlier this season. (Pioneer photo/Martin Slagter)

Still, Daniels is aware that Ferris State (11-8-1) isn’t far away from returning to the team that started the season 9-2-0.

“I’d be fibbing if I said we weren’t struggling with our confidence right now,” he said. “The thing about confidence is, you gain it quickly when you win and you lose it just as quickly (when you lose).

“We’re not far from being the team that started the season so well,” he added. “It would be one thing if we didn’t have that long stretch at the beginning of the season where we played well — we could be saying ‘maybe we just don’t have it this year.’ But we’ve shown that we do.”

The Bulldogs face Colgate (12-4-2) at 7:05 p.m. today, followed by a 4:05 p.m. face-off on Saturday, which is tied in with FSU’s “Military Appreciation Night.”

The biggest culprits in FSU’s recent slide have continued to be the power play and penalty kill. The Bulldogs were 1-for-12 over the weekend on the power play in the Catamount Cup in dropping a pair of games to RIT and Vermont, while surrendering five goals on 11 power play opportunities.

A key to breathing life into the power play might be keeping thing simple and consistent, Daniels said.

“We’ve worked on the power play every day this week and changed it around a bit,” he said. “We’re going to look to solidify one idea and go with it. We might be guilty at this point of trying to do too much.”

Ferris State’s Jordie Johnston, who is tied for the team lead in power play goals this season with four, said getting back to the little things will help solidify the team’s play on both the power play and penalty kill.

“I don’t know that you can point to one thing going wrong on either,” he said. “It’s just little things right now, that are adding up … simple things like turning away from shooting lanes or not getting in front of blocked shots. Those are the things that we were doing a better job of earlier in the season.”

The Raiders’ lineup includes the nation’s top goal scorer in Austin Smith, who has 19 goals this season.

Colgate’s offensive attack, which averages 3.38 goals per game, will be a handful, Johnston said.

The key to slowing them down will be sticking to the team’s defensive principles and providing relentless pressure when the Raiders are on the attack.

“We’re very capable of stopping them, which we’ve shown this season,” he said. “Any time you go on a losing streak and things don’t go your way, you lose a little confidence.

“We just need to do the little things to get that confidence back and I think this series is a great time to get it back,” the senior added. “They’re rated higher than us, and that’s one of those things that I think players get up for — a chance to beat a team like that.”

Daniels sees the series as a chance to get momentum back on their side as they head back into the conference schedule.

“It’s an opportunity to play another good hockey team that will prepare us for league play,” he said. “They’re a team that has continued to find ways to win. We just view every weekend as a chance to improve.”

 

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