Bulldogs ready to face Bowling Green

No. 3 Ferris State not to take Falcons lightly

BIG RAPIDS — The road to Joe Louis Ice Arena goes through Big Rapids this weekend and now the Ferris State hockey team knows which team will be standing in its path.

With the completion of 2012 CCHA Playoff first round action, the No. 3 ranked and top-seeded Bulldogs will host the Bowling Green State Falcons this weekend at Ewigleben Ice Arena in Big Rapids.

The CCHA Tournament Second Round series will get underway on Friday night with game two scheduled for Saturday and game three, if necessary, slated for Sunday. All three games are tentatively scheduled for 7:05 p.m. in the best-of-three series.

Bowling Green currently is 12-22-5 overall and posted a 11th-place 5-19-4 league record this season. The Falcons advanced to the quarterfinal round after registering 4-1 triumph in the deciding game three over sixth-seeded Northern Michigan on Sunday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. NMU won the opening game of the series 4-2 on Friday before the Falcons responded with a 5-3 win on Saturday to force game three.

Although a series against the Falcons may not have been expected by most, coming in as the tournament’s No. 11 seed, junior left wing Kyle Bonis said BGSU is a dangerous team that is playing with confidence right now.

“I think the most dangerous thing about them is they’re playing with confidence — that’s two years in a row that they’ve gone up to Northern (Michigan) and done that,” he said. “They’ve always been a hard working team and now their coach has them believing in what they do.”

After a schedule that saw the Bulldogs play every weekend since the new year began, having a week off was a good thing to help heal injuries Bonis said.

The Bulldogs, however, didn’t treat last week’s practices any differently than they would have during a normal game week.

“We took advantage of the break, but we didn’t lose a step,” he said. “It was a good thing to have some of the bumps and bruises healed because we had some guys that were banged up. We have a mature group of guys, though, so mental separation won’t be a problem heading into this weekend.”

The CCHA regular season champion Bulldogs finished the 2011-12 regular-season with a 22-9-5 overall record, including a first place 16-7-5 CCHA mark. Ferris State has posted a 11-1-4 ledger in the New Year with the lone loss coming in the regular-season finale against Western Michigan.

Ferris State swept four regular-season meetings versus BGSU this season. The Bulldogs swept the Falcons on the road by scores of 4-0 and 5-3 in November before beating Bowling Green State twice in Big Rapids by scores of 5-1 and 4-1 two weeks ago.

Continuing their success against the Falcons will likely come down to sticking to what works, Bonis said.

“We have to keep things simple,” he said. “We play well at home, so I think if we stick to our systems and not try to do too much, we’ll be OK. We have some young guys that will be playing in their first playoff series, so there will be a little bit of trying to control their emotions, particularly on Friday.”

The winner of this weekend’s series will advance to the 2012 CCHA Championships Semifinals at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Games times for Friday’s (March 16) semifinal-round matchups are to be announced. The third-place game and the Mason Cup Championship tilts will be held on Saturday, March 17, at 3:35 p.m. and 7:35 p.m., respectively.

Having the road to Joe Louis go through Big Rapids is an advantage for the Bulldogs, Bonis said.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “We’ve been so lucky to have an unbelievable fan base — not just the students, but the community — that has really jumped on board. It makes it so much more fun to be in a supportive environment. Our fans deserve another weekend of Bulldog hockey for their support.”

FSU is the top overall seed in the tournament while BGSU now enters the quarterfinals as the eighth team. The other three second-round CCHA Playoff series feature No. 6 Lake Superior State at No. 3 Western Michigan, No. 7 Notre Dame at No. 2 Michigan, and No. 5 Michigan State at No. 4 Miami (Ohio).

For tickets, please call the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or visit www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com for more information. Tickets are on sale now and also can be purchased in advance through StarTickets.com.

 

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