Who: #6 Michigan vs Ferris State
Where: Yost Ice Arena
When: Friday, 7:35pm
Ferris was a middling team for almost the entire year. The epitome of average, the Bulldogs hung around .500 for most of the season splitting every series they played in until a January first loss against Harvard in the Mariucci Classic. Since that point in the season the Bulldogs have gone 6-1-2, climbed up to 29th in the RPI and find themselves 3 points behind Minnesota State for first in the WCHA standings.
The Bulldogs rank 26th in total offense scoring 2.70 goals per game. Their power play hasn't been as good converting on 14.89% of chances, 41st in the country. Junior Gerald Mayhew leads the team in both goals and assists with a 10-17--27 line. Freshman Corey Mackin is close behind with an 8-13--21 line.
Down the scoring sheet the Bulldogs have a platoon of goal scorers led by junior Chad McDonald, senior Kenny Babinski and Andrew Dorantes.
On the blueline this unit may be the oldest group of defensemen Michigan has faced this year. The Bulldog rearguard features four seniors, a junior and two underclassmen with senior Simon Denis chipping in seven goals. As a unit they have allowed just 2.50 goals per game and have the nation's 8th ranked penalty kill.
Darren Smith starts in net and has been fantastic posting an 11-5-5 record, a .932 sv% and a 1.95 goals against.
Offensively Michigan has become more and more dependent on their top line of JT Compher, Tyler Motte and Kyle Connor. It's a great line but I'd like to see the other three lines get something going for the stretch run.
It will be important for both teams dictate the pace of the game. Michigan wants to get out in transition and push the pace while Ferris will want to forecheck the Wolverines into submission.
Possession will be the second key. Last Saturday against Wisconsin the Michigan blueline was taken to school by the Badger forecheck and they turned the puck over at an alarming rate; now they match-up with a team that wants to generate offense by forcing turnovers.
If they're getting the puck off their sticks quickly out to the forwards it will be a cakewalk. If you see the Michigan defensemen sending the puck up around boards without looking for a receiver first, it's going to be a long night.
Lastly, move bodies, lift sticks and protect the area in front of Steve Racine.