Ferris State's Recruiting Class Regarded As A Solid One

The Ferris State University men's ice hockey program will have at least five new faces on its 2008-09 team as head coach Bob Daniels announced the signings of forwards Derek Graham (Schoolcraft) and Jordie Johnston (Rosetown, Saskatchewan) along with defensemen Chad Billins (Marysville) and Michael Trebish (Yorkton, Saskatchewan). Goaltender Taylor Nelson (Regina, Saskatchewan) rounds out the Bulldogs' November 2007 early-signing group.

"I'm really excited about this group of players," said Daniels, who's currently in his 16th season at Ferris State and is the Bulldogs' all-time winningest coach. "This (recruiting) class is a solid one and compliments what we already have. These recruits will challenge our current players for big-time roles next season and will press for playing time right out of the gate.

Ferris State's 2008-09 season is already off to a productive start as five talented recruits will be skating for the Bulldogs.

"All five are outstanding, hard-working student-athletes with great character. They, like our previous recruiting class, bring a high level of enthusiasm and positive energy to the program which is a tribute to the recruiting efforts of Drew Famulak and Mark Kaufman," added Daniels.

Derek Graham, a 5-8, 160-pound center is presently midst his second season with the Mahoning Valley Phantoms of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). He presently has registered a team-leading 43 points with 23 goals and 20 assists in 29 outings this season. Graham has also posted seven power-play markers, one short-handed tally, and a pair of game-winning lamplighters as a member of head coach Bob Mainhardt's squad. Graham, who's tied for second place among the NAHL's points leaders and leads the league in goals scored to date, has helped Mahoning Valley to a 18-8-3 second-place record in the NAHL's North Division. He was selected as the NAHL's North Division Player of the Week earlier this season (12/11) after receiving honorable mention recognition on three previous occasions during the 2007-08 campaign. Graham produced 18 goals with 40 assists for 58 points in the 2006-07 campaign and will be reunited with Mahoning Valley alumnus and current Ferris State hockey student-athlete Mike Fillinger. Prior to joining the Phantoms, Graham played for Belle Tire AAA in the Midwest Elite Hockey League (MWEHL).

"Derek is a talented small forward who's very shifty and plays well in traffic," said Daniels. "He can finish and will upgrade our skill level."

Jordie Johnston is currently skating for the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's (SJHL) La Ronge (Saskatchewan) Ice Wolves under head coach Bob Beatty. The 5-11, 185-pound center has totaled a squad-best 63 points on 28 goals and 35 assists in 41 contests this season for La Ronge, which has compiled a third place 22-15-2 ledger in the SJHL's Itech Conference. Johnston's season points total presently ranks tied for second highest in the league while his goals total is second most on the SJHL leaders list. He also has netted six power-play goals and two short-handed markers this campaign. Johnston was honored as the SJHL's Forward of the Month in November 2007 as a result of leading all SJHL players with 12 goals and 14 assists in 12 outings for the month. He has been tabbed as the SJHL Forward of the Week twice (11/4 and 11/25) this season.

"Jordie's offensive abilities are exceptional," Daniels said. "Along with (Derek) Graham, Jordie will make an immediate impact for us with his high-end skill level. He is an effortless skater and has the ability to make players around him better."

A 5-10, 176-pound defenseman, Chad Billins has posted 12 points on four goals with eight assists in 23 contests this season for the Waterloo (Iowa) Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Billins currently is tied for fifth place in team scoring and ranks second among the Black Hawks' blueliners in points this campaign. The defender ranks tied for 70th on the USHL's overall points leaders chart and is tied for 10th place among the league's blueliners. Waterloo, coached by P.K. O'Handley, currently occupies third place in the USHL's East Division standings with a 13-6-4 record.

"Chad is a mobile defenseman who has great offensive instincts," stated Daniels. "His ability to read the play is exceptional. We expect him to push for time on our power play."

Michael Trebish is currently skating for the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's (SJHL) Yorkton (Saskatchewan) Terriers, who are coached by Ed Zawatsky. In 36 games this season, Trebish has generated 14 points on three goals and 11 assists. He's presently tied for fourth in team scoring this campaign as the Terriers have tallied a 17-15-2 mark to date in the SJHL's Sherwood Conference. The 6-1, 197-pound defenseman presently ranks 99th in points, 123rd in goals, and 77th in assists among the 2007-08 SJHL statistical leaders. He's tied for 19th place on SJHL's leading scoring defensemen. A season ago, Trebish was the recipient of the team's Scholastic Award and a teammate of Ferris State's Justin Menke.

"Michael is a big, strong defenseman," Daniels said. "He's physically strong in his own end and can make solid outlet passes to the forwards. He possesses a good shot from the offensive zone blueline and will also push for action on the power play."

Taylor Nelson, a 6-1, 170-pound goaltender, is playing with the Humboldt (Saskatchewan) Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL). Nelson has registered an 18-6-0-1 record with a 2.03 goals-against average (51 goals allowed) and a .919 save percentage in 1,506 minutes of action for the Broncos, who are coached by Dean Brockman. He currently ranks second among SJHL netminders in goals-against average and is tied for fourth in save percentage. Nelson, the SJHL Goaltender of the Month for September 2007, was selected as the SJHL Goaltender of the Week on two occasions (9/23 and 10/21) this campaign. The Ice Wolves have presently amassed a third-place 22-15-2 record in the SJHL's Itech Conference. In the 2006-07 season, Nelson posted a 20-1-0-1 mark between the pipes in his inaugural juniors campaign.

"Taylor is a tall, lanky goaltender, who competes hard around the crease area," said Daniels. "Taylor has a great glove hand with above average ability to play the puck and will push for playing time immediately.

"He reminds me a lot of (current FSU goaltender) Pat Nagle in his style and demeanor," Daniels added.

2008-09 Ferris State Bulldog Hockey Class

Name, Position Hometown

Chad Billins, Defenseman, Marysville, Mich.
5-10, 176 lbs., Shoots: Left, Date of Birth: 5/26/89
2007-08 team: Waterloo Blackhawks, North American Hockey League

Derek Graham, Center, Schoolcraft, Mich.
5-8, 160 lbs., Shoots: Right, Date of Birth: 5/26/88
2007-08 team: Mahoning Valley Phantoms, North American Hockey League

Jordie Johnston, Center, Rosetown, Saskatchewan
5-11, 185 lbs., Shoots: Left, Date of Birth: 8/18/87
2007-08 team: La Ronge Ice Wolves, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Taylor Nelson, Goaltender, Regina, Saskatchewan
6-1, 170 lbs., Shoots: Left, Date of Birth: 5/3/88
2007-08 team: Humboldt Broncos, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

Michael Trebish, Defenseman, Yorkton, Saskatchewan
6-1, 197 lbs., Shoots: Left, Date of Birth: 6/28/89
2007-08 team: Yorkton Terriers, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League

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