Bulldog Defenseman Helps Lead Team West To Skills Championship Title

Joe Van Culin
Joe Van Culin was the fastest skater at the 2007 Pontiac Frozen Four Skills Challenge.

Ferris State University senior defenseman Joe Van Culin (Monticello, Minn.) made the most of his opportunity in the national spotlight at the 2007 NCAA Pontiac Frozen Four Skills Challenge, which was held April 6 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.

Van Culin, who represented Team West in the ice hockey skills challenge, won the fastest skater competition by defeating Air Force's Andrew Ramsey by a skate in the individual showdown. He also posted the best time of all fastest skater participants by clocking a 14.97 seconds time in the lap heats. The West dominated the event, winning each of the four-skater heats and both of the head-to-head races to claim four points and take a 5-1 lead.

Along with the fastest skater event, Van Culin competed in the puck control relay as the West and East teams split two points. The puck control relay involves skaters weaving through cones.

The West team captured the second annual Frozen Four Skills Challenge title by overcoming an 8-7 deficit to post a 13-10 victory. The West team prevailed in the final competition by garnering a 6-2 advantage in the penalty shots event.

The Frozen Four Skills Challenge is comprised of 12 skaters, six male and six female, along with four goaltenders (two male and two female) from each region. Participants were eligible only if they exhausted their collegiate eligibility and hadn't signed a professional contract.

Van Culin was initially named an alternate, but was selected to compete in the event as a result of the original participants withdrawing from the competition due to other commitments such as their team's participation in the NCAA Frozen Four and signing pro contracts.

The Bulldog senior concluded his four-year career in the 2006-07 season with a career single-season best 14 points on five goals and nine assists in 39 games. His goals and assists totals both represented personal career season highs. He placed tied for eighth on Ferris' points leaders list while sharing top scoring honors among the Bulldogs' defensemen. Van Culin tallied three power-play goals and produced one multiple-point game outing, which occurred on a pair of assists versus Ohio State (Feb. 3).

Van Culin, who was Ferris' 2004-05 CCHA Scholar-Athlete, amassed 10 goals and 24 assists for 34 career points in 134 outings. He registered a plus three efficiency rating while producing four power-play lamplighters and two game-winners in his collegiate career.

The participation of Van Culin at the Frozen Four Skills Challenge marked the second year in a row in which a Ferris State hockey player has competed in the event. Former Bulldog goaltender Tom Mueller participated in the inaugural 2006 Frozen Four Skills Challenge at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wis.

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