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Union Dutchmen Ready For “Frozen Four” Debut

Jeremy Welsh
Courtesy Union Athletics

For No. 3/3 Union (26-7-7, 14-4-4), a historic season continues in Tampa, as the Dutchmen will take on No. 9/4 Ferris State (25-11-1, 16-7-5 CCHA) with a berth in the national championship game at stake. Both Union and Ferris State are making their first appearances in the Frozen Four. Union, the No. 3 overall seed, earned its first two NCAA Tournament wins in the Division I era over Michigan State and UMass-Lowell, winning the East Regional in Bridgeport, CT. Ferris State’s road to Tampa included wins over Denver and Cornell as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional in Green Bay, WI. Union appeared in the national semifinals twice at the Division III level in 1984 and 1985. The opening face-off will be Thursday at 4:30 p.m. on 104.5 “The Team”.

After Nine Years, ECAC Hockey Returns to the Frozen Four

For No. 3/3 Union (26-7-7, 14-4-4), a historic season continues in Tampa, as the Dutchmen will take on No. 9/4 Ferris State (25-11-1, 16-7-5 CCHA) with a berth in the national championship game at stake. Both Union and Ferris State are making their first appearances in the Frozen Four. Union, the No. 3 overall seed, earned its first two NCAA Tournament wins in the Division I era over Michigan State and UMass-Lowell, winning the East Regional in Bridgeport, CT. Ferris State’s road to Tampa included wins over Denver and Cornell as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Regional in Green Bay, WI. Union appeared in the national semifinals twice at the Division III level in 1984 and 1985.

Top Ranked Teams Bring out the Best in Dutchmen

Union’s non-conference schedule included games against two teams that spent time at No. 1 in the USCHO.com poll. The Dutchmen won both contests, defeating Michigan. 6-3 on Nov. 27, and Merrimack, 3-1 on Dec. 17. Ferris State spent two weeks as the No. 1 team in the USCHO.com poll from Feb. 13-27.

Union and Ferris State Have Much in Common

Union and Ferris State will have had plenty of scout tape at their disposal, as the two teams shared nine common opponents in 2011-12. Ferris State has played seven games against four different ECAC Hockey opponents, (St. Lawrence, RPI, Colgate, and Cornell) and has a record of 7-0-0. Union is 2-0-2 in four games against CCHA opponents (Western Michigan, Michigan, Michigan State) this season. Union and Ferris State also both played against RIT and Denver.

Trip to Tampa Marks Union’s Florida Debut

A well-traveled group, the Dutchmen will play in Florida for the first time in program history this weekend. Over the past two seasons, Union has played contests in 11 different states (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, Alaska, and Florida).

Gostisbehere Makes a Frozen Four Homecoming

Freshman defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (five goals, 17 assists), a native of Margate, FL (a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale) is one of 17 Florida natives that played Division I men’s hockey this season. An ECAC Hockey All- Rookie Team selection, Gostisbehere is making a homecoming of sorts to his home state – Tampa is a four-hour drive from Margate (233 miles).

3 and 5 are Union’s Magic Numbers

Union has scored three or more goals in 31 contests this season, with a record of 26-0-5 in those games. Last season, Union set a school record in the Division I era by scoring five or more goals in 12 contests. Through 40 games in 2011-12, the Dutchmen have broken that mark scoring five or more goals in 14 contests, including Union’s 6-2 win over Colgate on March 16 in the ECAC Semifinals. Union is 25-0-0 over the past two seasons when it scores five or more goals in a game.

Scouting Ferris State

Ferris State, the CCHA regular season champions, earned a spot in Tampa by winning the Midwest Regional as the No. 2 seed, defeating Denver and Cornell by matching 2-1 scores. The Bulldogs, who were ranked No. 1 in the USCHO.com Poll from Feb. 13-27 while in the midst of a 15-game unbeaten streak (11-0-4), have achieved success this season in large part to a stingy defensive corps, superb goaltending and timely scoring.

Up Front

Ferris State’s balanced offensive attack (2.93 goals/game, 21st NCAA) is led by its top line – sophomore left wing Garrett Thompson (10 goals, 12 assists), senior center Jordie Johnston (20 goals, 16 assists), and junior right wing Matthew Kirzinger (10 goals, 24 assists). Johnston, an All-CCHA Second Team selection, has goals in three straight games, including the third period game winner against Cornell. Junior left wing Kyle Bonis (18 goals, 11 assists) and senior defenseman Chad Billins (seven goals, 22 assists) are also scoring threats for the Bulldogs.

On Defense

Billins and senior defenseman Brett Wysopal lead one of the best defensive corps in college hockey (2.17 goals allowed/game, T-5th NCAA). Ferris State has allowed one goal or less in 18 contests this season, matching Boston College in that category among teams playing in the Frozen Four. For the past five games, the defensive lineup has remained the same – Billins paired with sophomore Scott Czarnowczan, Wysopal paired with freshman Jason Binkley, and freshman Travis White paired with freshman Simon Denis.

In Net

One of the top goaltenders in the nation, senior goalie Taylor Nelson (20-6-3, 2.10 GAA, .923 save%) is in the midst of his best season in net, his first as the No. 1 starter. Nelson stopped 47 of 49 shots in two NCAA Tournament games against Denver and Cornell. Nelson has started 10 of the last 11 games in net for Ferris State, allowing a goal or less in seven of those starts.

Special Teams

The Bulldogs have scored power play goals in four of the last five games and have enjoyed modest success on the man advantage throughout the season (19.2%, 25th NCAA). Ferris State is one of the most penalized teams in the country (15.5 PIM/game, 10th NCAA), a stat that is offset by one of the best penalty killing units in the country (85.8%, 6th NCAA). Ferris State has held opponents scoreless on the man advantage in each of the last five games (21- for-21) and has allowed just three power play goals in 45 chances over the past 11 games.

The preceding information was provided by Union College Athletics.

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