"We have another great group of student-athletes to work with this season," said Daniels, who currently ranks second among FSU's all-time winningest coaches with 100 career victories. "The guys we have coming back have a great work ethic, and I'm really excited about the new players we have coming in and the opportunity to work with them.
"With the loss of 11 seniors, we will feel the pinch early in the season due to our inexperience. The emergence of leadership will be a critical element to our team's success," added Daniels.
In order to win this season, Ferris will need to play with patience and maturity. The Bulldogs were 14-16-6 last season, representing their best mark in six years. The Bulldogs placed sixth in the CCHA with a 13-12-5 mark and qualified for the CCHA Tournament for the 18th time in the program's 20-year NCAA Division I history.
Last season was also a success on the national level as FSU finished sixth in scoring defense (2.42 avg.), seventh in penalty killing (.876) and 25th in scoring margin (0.06). Moreover, the Bulldogs' 2.42 goals against average was the lowest in school history.
In all likelihood, Owen will be splitting duties at the start of the season with Osaer, a seventh-round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. Osaer posted a 2-2-1 record in net with a 1.51 goals against average and .947 saves percentage in nine outings and held the distinction of being the league's top netminder in last season's postseason action.
The most significant loss up front is Joel Irwin, who finished his four-year career at Ferris with 111 points and was second on the squad with 23 points a season ago. Despite the losses, the Bulldogs return one of the league's top offensive threats in senior Brian McCullough (14-14 -- 28), who led Ferris in scoring last season with 28 points in 35 games. He totaled six multi-point games a season ago, third highest on the squad, while receiving CCHA Offensive Player-of-the-Week kudos on one occasion. Seniors Brent Wishart (7-13 -- 20) and Rob Kozak (3-8 -- 11) not only bring experience to the table, but leadership and proven on-ice ability. As a result, both were chosen as assistant captains for this upcoming season.
The FSU coaching staff is hoping Wishart will continue his solid play after placing fourth in team scoring last year. Kozak will be counted upon to anchor the Bulldogs' checking line. Junior Kevin Swider (12-10 -- 22) put together another productive year last season by placing third in team scoring. He possesses the uncanny ability of making players around him better.
One of the league's promising scorers is sophomore Rob Collins (3-9 -- 12), who earned FSU Rookie-of-the-Year honors last season after producing the highest point total among the squad's first-year players. Jon Rogger (1-3 -- 4), the team's Most Improved Player in 1998-99, returns for his junior year and will welcome three talented rookies in freshmen Chris Kunitz, Phil Lewandowski, and Scott Markowsky.
Ricciardi received the team's Plus/Minus Award as a result of registering a team-leading plus/minus rating of +14 in 33 games. Solidifying the blueline will be a trio of sophomores in Jason Basile (1-3 -- 4), Chad McIver (0-1 -- 1), and Christian Schroder (0-2 -- 2). Battling for playing time will be highly-touted freshman Troy Milam, who Daniels believes can step in and contribute immediately.