A new season. Here we go.
Hopefully this season thread is devoid of some of the ranting and raving of seasons past. Maybe a kinder, more gentle Hammer? Well, we'll see.....
Let's face it. Last year hurt, especially the way it ended. One more win somewhere along the way and we would have had a tournament berth. I suspect that we're going to find out just how precious seasons like that are for this program.
There. We're done with that. I'm done beating the dead horse. It's time to look at this season. The defense should be fine. The goaltending is just about the last thing in the world I'm worried about. No concerns there, either. Hell, I'm even okay with the penalty totals, provided that we put an end to the CFB penalties that haunted us the 1st half of last season. If the penalty kill and PP totals are similiar, I'd take that, no questions asked. Which leads us to.............
The goal scoring. Mainly, who and where? 55 of our 118 goals graduated this past summer. The problem is, we can't point to another player on this team and confidently say "we can count on this guy to provide 15-20, and maybe this guy can get to 12-15" without taking a huge leap of faith. And as I have said before, relying on freshmen to do so is a risky proposition at best.
No one on this team has ever scored double digit goals in a single season at the collegiate level. Our leading returning scorer is Justin Menke, with a whopping 21 career goals through 3 years. Mike Embach has 19, Zach Redmond has 15 as a defenseman, Mike Fillinger has 12 and Scotty Wietecha has 10. No one else on the team has at least 10 career goals. Again, these are CAREER totals. Folks, this is THE issue this season.
The university has made a couple changes this offseason that I would like to point out, and both are certainly for the better, IMO. They admitted that the 5:05 Saturday starts did not work, and according to the USCHO schedule, the Saturday home games are back to 7:05. Great move. The other adjustment that they made is providing broadcasts for road games outside the CCHA, and I'm assuming, the 7:05 Thursday night game against Michigan State on 1/27/11. A few years ago, Ferris played MSU on a Tuesday night, AT HOME, and there was no broadcast available. That is completely unacceptable, and it looks like Ferris State University has corrected that problem as well. They deserve credit for that.
I think we're going to see a bump in the attendance this season for two reasons: 1) the Saturday attendance is not likely to go into the toilet due to earlier starts, and 2) both Michigan and Michigan State are in Big Rapids TWICE this season. There is no reason whatsoever that attendance should be under 2,493 for any of these four home dates. If those four games do not sell out, it's not the university's fault. We've got a nice home schedule, at least about as well as we can do. The university has done their part. It's time for the fans to step up to the plate.
Not much of a prediction this year, but just a guess. For about the 638th time, goal scoring is likely to be the undoing of this team. If the defense and goaltending falters (not likely in either case), we're in real trouble. If the goal scoring steps up and surprises me (quite possible), we can be a .500 team in conference and be a top-6 team. Put a gun to my head, and I'm thinking roughly 15-16 wins. Not like last year, but not like some of the debacles of seasons past. I'm not nearly as down as I usually am at the beginning. God knows I only missed on last year by about a mile and a half.
Let the season begin.