BIG RAPIDS, Mich. -- After finishing fourth in the WCHA regular season standings, Ferris State’s hockey season was supposed to be over by now, the Bulldogs, though, had other plans, getting hot at the right time to win the WCHA tournament this past weekend, earning an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.
"You always hope your team will peak at the right time of the year and we certainly are and I attribute that a lot to our senior leadership.," said Ferris State coach Bob Daniels. "We've got guys that have been through these type of situations, these big games and I give them a lot of credit for having the team ready at the right time of the year."
While Ferris may have been a surprise team to come out of the WCHA this year, the Bulldogs are no stranger to this kind of success, making the NCAA tournament three out of the last five years and advancing to a Frozen Four in 2012.
"All our upper-classmen have been NCAA tournament two years ago," said senior defenseman Simon Denis. "We were one goal away from being back in the Frozen Four then, so we have a lot of good experience here, guys that know how it feels to play in that game and the younger guys got great experience this past weekend at the WCHA Final Five down at the Van Andel and winning that championship just gets you that much more prepared, it gives everyone that experience and that's crucial for us."
To advance in the tournament, 4-seeded Ferris will need to pull off more upsets, starting with a first round game against number 1 seed St. Cloud State in St. Paul, Minnesota on Saturday at 3 p.m., but the Bulldogs welcome the challenge as underdogs.
"We enjoy being the underdog," says Dennis. "We don't look at it that way, but people are gonna classify us as that and we have no issue with that. So, we're confident with our team and we can beat any team what-so-ever, it doesn't matter if it's a 1-seed or we're playing a 16-seed. It really doesn't matter to us."
"I think the hardest part of the NCAA tournament is getting in," said Daniels. "Only 16 of the 60 teams make it. I think three of the last four years number four seeds have reached the Final Four, two of the last three years number four seeds have won a national title, so the important part is getting in and then once in we don't feel like we're an underdog. We feel like we're just one of 16 teams with a chance at the national title."
Highlights courtesy of FOX Sports North