Ferris State hockey prepares for first road trip of the season to St. Lawrence

No. 4 Bulldogs set for tough road test at St. Lawrence

BIG RAPIDS — Although the Ferris State hockey team jumped up to No. 4 in this week’s United States College Hockey Online (USCHO), FSU head coach Bob Daniels hasn’t seen a top-five team on the ice through two games this season.

DROP IT: Ferris State freshman forward Zach Szajner (18) and Wilfrid Laurier’s Kyle Morrison (32) wait for the referee to drop the puck on a faceoff during an exhibition game at Ewigleben Ice Arena last Friday. The No. 4 Bulldogs are on the road this weekend for a weekend series against St. Lawrence, starting tonight with Game 1. (Pioneer file photo)

DROP IT: Ferris State freshman forward Zach Szajner (18) and Wilfrid Laurier’s Kyle Morrison (32) wait for the referee to drop the puck on a faceoff during an exhibition game at Ewigleben Ice Arena last Friday. The No. 4 Bulldogs are on the road this weekend for a weekend series against St. Lawrence, starting tonight with Game 1. (Pioneer file photo)

As the Bulldogs (1-0, 0-0-0 WCHA) hit the road to begin a weekend series with St. Lawrence (1-1) in Canton, N.Y. today, Daniels had his team get back to basics this week in practice after seeing some sloppy play from his players through the first two weeks of the season, including some especially sloppy play in a 4-1 exhibition win against Wilfrid Laurier last Friday.

“The things as a staff we thought that we did poorly (against Wilfrid Laurier) is No.1, we need to put a lot of work into our penalty kill and we will continue to do that,” he said. “We talked and we’re going to work on shortening our shifts, because guys were out on the ice for too long, and we’re going to work on our puck handling. I thought our ability to pass and receive was really poor and I think it remains poor.

“Matter of fact, I’ve felt it’s been poor since day one and it hasn’t improved nearly as much as we’ve hoped it would,” he continued. “Right now, I don’t like where we’re at with fundamentals. We’ve got to tighten up our fundamentals.”

Puck handling is an important part of every game, but it will be even more important for the Bulldogs against the strong defensive corps the Saints showcase.

In a 10-2 rout against Niagara last Saturday, the Saints had their defensemen account for six of those goals, led by sophomore defenseman Gavin Bayreuther, who recorded two goals and an assist against Niagara and split Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Rookie of the Year honors last season.

“They’ve got a really good defensive corps and it’s not a fluke for them to score six in a weekend,” Daniels said. “It starts with (Bayreuther) and he had 26 points as a freshman last season and now he’s already got four points in two games.

“They’re very much like us in that they have a mobile, offensively-minded defensive corps,” he continued. “We didn’t duck anyone in our nonconference schedule. People aren’t as familiar with St. Lawrence as they are with teams like Michigan and Wisconsin, but if we don’t do well, it’s not because they snuck up on us because they’re a very good team.”

The Saints were also the only team to defeat the Bulldogs at Ewigleben Ice Arena last season with a 3-2 win on Oct. 18, 2013.

The Bulldogs have a deep defensive lineup, but they will not be able to work in freshman defenseman Austin Kosack after he suffered an arm injury in the exhibition game against Wilfrid Laurier.

Daniels said Kosack will likely be out until at least the Bulldogs’ series at Michigan State on Oct. 31-Nov.1, but he said another freshman in forward Andrew Dorantes impressed him with his abilities to win faceoffs in the exhibition game and will see some ice time on the power play.

“With Dorantes, we’ve got him on one of the power-play units right now,” Daniels said. “Whether it stays that way throughout the weekend, I don’t know. But what I really liked about Andrew Dorantes is his ability to win faceoffs and I thought that’s something we haven’t had in a while.”

The Bulldogs also will have senior forward Dom Panetta in the lineup this weekend after missing the first two games and they expect to get sophomore forward Jared VanWormer back the following weekend for their WCHA opener against Michigan Tech on Oct. 24-25 in Big Rapids.

“All of a sudden now, we’re getting some veteran reinforcements up front, which we need,” Daniels said. “Going into the Michigan Tech series, knock on wood, but hopefully we’ll have a full contingent of forwards and then we can really start solidifying some lines.”

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