Sunday, December 10, 2017
Colleges

Breaking down Frozen Four: Union vs. Ferris State

Coaching

Advantage: Ferris State. Bob Daniels, left, won the Spencer Prose Award, given annually to the Division I coach of the year. His Union counterpart, Rick Bennett, is in his first season. No first-year coach has ever won the national championship.

Bulldogs

Location: Big Rapids, Mich.

Conference: Central Collegiate Hockey Association

U.S. College Hockey Online national ranking: 9th

Coach: Bob Daniels, 20th season (333-361-79)

Leading scorer: Jordie Johnston (20 goals, 16 assists, 36 points)

Leading goaltender: Taylor Nelson (20-6-3, 2.10 goals-against average, .923 save percentage)

NHL players produced: 6

Notable alumni: Chris Kunitz (two-time Stanley Cup winner currently with the Penguins), George Ryan (former governor of Illinois), Karen McDougal (1998 Playboy playmate of the year)

Frozen Four appearances: 1

National championships: 0

Dutchmen

Location: Schenectady, N.Y.

Conference: Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference

U.S. College Hockey Online national ranking: 3rd

Coach: Rick Bennett, first season (26-7-7)

Leading scorer: Jeremy Welsh (27 goals, 16 assists, 43 points)

Leading goaltender: Troy Grosenick (22-5-3, 1.64 goals-against average, .936 save percentage)

NHL players produced: 3

Notable alumni: Chester Arthur (21st U.S. president), Baruch Samuel Blumberg (winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Medicine who discovered the hepatitis B virus), Kate White (editor-in-chief, Cosmopolitan magazine)

Frozen Four appearances: 1

National championships: 0

Goaltending

Advantage: Union. Sophomore Troy Grosenick entered the season with one career start but by the end had established himself as one of the top goaltenders in the country. He is second in the nation in goals-against average (1.64), save percentage (.936) and winning percentage (.783) and tied for fourth with five shutouts. He was the first Union player to be among the 10 semifinalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

Defense

Advantage: Union. The Dutchmen lead the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 1.8 goals per game. No other Division I team allows fewer than two per contest. Union plays more man to man while Ferris State attempts to outnumber opponents and swarm the puck.

Advantage: Union. While both teams are known for defense, many believe Union's scoring abilities are underrated. The Dutchmen have scored three or more goals in 31 of 40 games this season and are undefeated when they do so (26-0-5). Senior forward Jeremy Welsh has scored in five straight games and set the school record for goals in a season.



Special teams

Advantage: Union. With a 24.3 percent success rate on the power play, fourth best in the country, the Dutchmen appear to match up favorably with the Bulldogs, whose 15.5 penalty minutes per game are 10th most in Division I. Union has scored a power-play goal in 13 of its past 19 games.

The pick

Expect a low-scoring affair with plenty of defense and stonewall goaltending. Don't expect either school to come out looking like a deer in the headlights. Union knocked off Michigan State in the first round, and Ferris State pulled out 2-1 victories over Denver and Cornell. A special teams goal could be the difference for Union.

Laura Keeley's pick | Union 2, Ferris State 1

BulldogsDutchmen
25-11-1Record26-7-7
2.93Goals scored per game3.55
2.2Goals allowed per game1.8
19.2Power-play percentage24.3
85.9Penalty-kill percentage84.9
15.5Penalty minutes per game10.3


Cornell coach Mike Schafer played both Ferris and Union since mid February. His analysis:

"Obviously, both teams are really good defensively, and typically, teams underrate them offensively. Watching Ferris on film, we knew that they were capable of beating people one on one. They have good team speed and are good in transition. Union is the same way. They can roll out some pretty good lines offensively with (Jeremy) Welsh and (Kelly) Zajac. The key will be special teams. I really like how Union matches up against Ferris. That's the one advantage I would give Union over Ferris, the power play."

Offense

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