Ferris State's "Cinderella on Skates" finished one game short of the NCAA men's hockey Frozen Four this year, but there was a time the skate slipper fit.
In 2012, the underdog Bulldogs nearly went all the way.
After winning the second Central Collegiate Hockey Association regular-season championship in school history, Ferris State beat Denver 2-0 and Cornell 2-1 to win the Midwest Regional and advance to the Frozen Four for the first time in school history.
Andy Huff scored the game-winner against Cornell at the 6:54 mark of the third period.
The 2002-03 team, which set a school record with 31 victories, was the first Ferris State team to reach the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs advanced to the Midwest Regional final, losing 7-4 to Minnesota. But their accomplishments made a lasting impression.
“Coming in as a freshman to Ferris State University there’s memorabilia of that 2002-03 team hung up in the walls in the dressing room, hung up in the rink facility and in the weight room,” goalie Taylor Nelson told UCHO.com after FSU beat Cornell to reach the Frozen Four. “To say that we surpassed what they had done that season is pretty special.”
The Bulldogs didn't stop there. In the sports moment judged the greatest in school history, Ferris State won the battle of newcomers in the Frozen Four semifinals to reach the championship game.
The Bulldogs beat Union, also making its first Frozen Four appearance 3-1, dominating the third period. Ferris State came into the game outscoring opponents, 51-31, in the third period and scored twice against Union in the final 20 minutes.
Kyle Bonis tallied the game-winner with less than five minutes to play and Aaron Schmit added the second of his two goals to back the stellar play of Nelson, who made 27 saves.
“It’s almost hard to comprehend right now,” Bonis said after the game. “This is great, but we have to stay in the moment.”
“We can’t be satisfied,” added Nelson, who set a school-record .923 save percentage to help the Bulldogs to the third-most wins in school history. “We’ve been saying it all along. We’re happy to advance, but we’re not done yet.”
Ferris State's charmed run ended in the championship game, losing 4-1 to Boston College. It was the 19th consecutive victory for the Eagles, who won their fifth national championship. Bonis and Chad Billins were named to the All-Tournament Team.
"This team has really blazed a trail," said FSU's Bob Daniels, the National Coach of the Year. "This team broke some new ground for us and this senior class will leave with three-straight winning years and three really great seasons."
• Bulldog Athletics Hall of Fame
Above: Ferris State battles Boston College in the 2012 championship game. Boston College won, 4-1. (Courtesy Ferris State Athletics)
Middle: Ferris State's NCAA Midwest Regional champions. (Courtesy Ferris State Athletics)
THIS WEEK’S GREATEST MOMENTS
• Monday: Drexel and Duquesne
• Tuesday: East Carolina and East Tennessee State
• Wednesday: Eastern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky
• Thursday: Eastern Michigan and Elon
• Friday: Ferris State and Florida Atlantic