Bulldogs as underdogs

TAMPA, Fla. — A common theme around Tampa Bay Times Forum on Friday is how much of an underdog Ferris State is against Boston College in Saturday’s NCAA championship game. According to those in Las Vegas who know of such things, coming into this weekend the Eagles had 6-5 odds to win while Ferris State’s odds to win the national title were 5-1.

Listening to the questions put to both Jerry York and Bob Daniels after their teams’ practices Friday, it would be easy to think that Ferris State’s chances were nil — unless, of course, you’re Jerry York and Bob Daniels. Each coach has tremendous respect for the other, and each knows the type of challenge that his team faces Saturday.

“We have a great deal of respect for Ferris State,” said York. “Any team that can win the CCHA — you know, Michigan’s in there, Michigan State’s in there, Miami’s in there, some really power, powerful teams. And you have Ferris that won the championship.”

“I think that we are the perceived underdog,” said Daniels, “but the realization is that we have to play Boston College.”

Someone suggested to York Friday morning that perhaps the pressure was more on BC because it’s expected to win, while FSU may have the luxury of remaining loose. Both coaches dismissed that, but Daniels took it one step further.

“The fact is, they are a very good team and we will not be able to play very loose, nor should we. We are going to have to be on top of our game. If we are going to have success, we’re going to have to be hitting at 100 percent and be right on top of our game. If we start freelancing, we’re going to be in trouble.

“We don’t want them [the Bulldogs] to be tight and I don’t want them scared, but at the same time, if we don’t play our best style of game, we’re going to have big problems.”

As for the Ferris State players, they take the underdog tag in stride. They’re not offended by the widespread opinion that they may suffer the same fate or worse as Minnesota did in Thursday night’s 6-1 semifinal match between the Golden Gophers and the Eagles — but neither are they intimidated by their higher-profile opponent.

That’s because they’re focused mostly on themselves.

“I think we can just come up and play our game,” said senior defenseman Brett Wysopal. “We just come out and play. You might be squeezing your stick a little too tight if you are considered a favorite because you should win the game. Both teams have had great years. Both teams are here playing in the championship. Both teams are very well deserving and I think we just need to come out and play.”

“It’s the same thing we said at the regionals,” said senior Jordie Johnston, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer. “We are about 50 percent satisfied right now. It’s obviously a big match. We’re excited and we’re getting ready for it. We’ll be ready come Saturday.”