Ferris State Defenseman Turning Heads Despite Bulldogs' Tough Season
by Nick Lowman/CHN Reporter
Ferris State has a beautiful campus that includes a new renovated facility for hockey, which includes a state-of-the-art locker room that features a study lounge with computers, a film room, training room and sauna.
Along with the upgrade comes an improving hockey program, that despite its record, has been competitive all season long. A big reason why has been the stellar play of sophomore defenseman Zach Redmond.
A seventh round draft pick (184th overall) of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2008, Redmond consistently provides offensive production that cannot be overlooked. He's established himself as one of the premiere defensemen in the country that is only getting better.
"I just love the game," said Redmond. "I'm always excited to come to the rink and work hard. It keeps my life going."
His passion for the game and his body of work to this point in his career suggests that he has the talent and work ethic to accomplish a lot of great things at Ferris, where he feels right at home.
"I like the smaller town," said the co-captain. "The chemistry is great here and everyone loves playing for each other. For me, it was a great fit because I'm closer to home and I have family here."
Not to be overlooked by his offensive numbers, Redmond is highly-reliable on the blue line. While most freshmen defensemen have a big learning curve at the collegiate level, the super sophomore had no problem adjusting and posted a plus-14 rating in his first year.
Heading into this season, the Bulldogs have a similar roster to last season and have improved greatly in terms of experience.
"Our team hasn't changed a whole lot from last year," Redmond said. "We still chip pucks off the glass and get it deep in the zone. We do have more skill this year than last."
The maturity and leadership has brought great respect to the Bulldog dressing room. Six seasons removed from the CCHA title, Ferris State is slowly making progress to try and regain the conference spotlight. It difficult for a "small marker" team like FSU to sustain big results year after year, but head coach Bob Daniels has done an excellent job recruiting talent and rebuilding it again, and the results have been pretty good.
"We really believe in ourselves and the system that Coach Daniels put in place," Redmond said. "We keep working really hard and there is a buzz in the locker room about the playoffs."
Heading into the playoffs, the sophomore defenseman added, "keeping focus is the most important thing and showing up to practice and trying to do the right things will be the key for us to have success."
Redmond is an impact player that Ferris State hasn't seen in a long time — such as Hobey finalist Chris Kunitz — and for good measure, could go down as one of the all-time greats in Bulldog history. To put it in perspective, Redmond isn't the highest defensemen selected in the NHL entry draft in the CCHA, but could easily be any program's top blueliner in the league.
Always near the top in scoring wherever he plays, this season has been no different for the top scoring defenseman on the team. He currently ranks tied for second in scoring for defensemen in the CCHA. When asked about whether he prefers being on the power play or defending, it was an easy choice.
"The power play," Redmond said. "I like making plays and trying to help the team capitalize on opportunities. But I think defense is more important."
While the Bulldogs may not be seen as an elite program of college hockey, it is hard to argue that Redmond is one of the top players in the league and should garner more attention for what he's accomplished thus far.
It's not often that a college athlete goes from a rookie to co-captain in the following season. And for good reason. With any opportunity to watch this kid play in person, it's obvious to the casual sports fan that Redmond is a special player. He plays faster and smarter than anyone on the ice. No one puts himself in position better to defend and play transition hockey than this kid. Even more important, he understands what he has to do to be successful at the next level.
"I'm going to have to be more focused and play more consistent," he said. "Coming to the rink with the right attitude is also important. I think playing the way your team needs you to play and understanding that defense comes first is what has to happen."
For a kid who can do it all, Zach Redmond is the big dog in Big Rapids.