Nate Kallen & Cooper Zech Are Leading Ferris State From The Blue Line


Ferris State junior Nate Kallen is finding a new role in Big Rapids as he and freshman defensive partner Cooper Zech are forming a dynamic pairing early on.

The Bulldogs opened the season being swept by No. 18 Western Michigan. They started to find their game over the next six contests, going 4-2, paced by Kallen’s seven assists.

The California native posted a modest 17 points (5 G, 12 A) last season, but he’s never been a leaned-on offensive contributor during his hockey career. This season, a growing trust from coach Bob Daniels is raising his game.

Following Saturday’s loss to Michigan Tech — in which Kallen posted a goal and two assists — he said he worked on a little bit of everything over the summer. He singled out his game from the point, particularly wanting to get more shots through to the net.

Now an expanding role is turning him into a go-to guy in all situations for Daniels. and has been a steady presence early on for the 4-6 Bulldogs. Not only has Kallen responded with a team-leading 10 points (1 G, 9 A) in 10 games — which also leads all WCHA defensemen — but he’s done so with a freshman defensive partner in Zech, which often presents a learning curve.

The learning curve hasn’t been a problem thus far, as Zech’s defensive game has been as marketed. The Michigan native finished fourth in BCHL scoring last season, posting an 11-58–69 stat line in 58 games, leading the league in assists and finishing as the only defenseman among the top-20 scorers.

He added another 23 points (4 G, 19 A) in 20 postseason games and earned the Defenseman of the Year award come season’s end. Already committed to Ferris State, Zech skated in Washington Capitals’ Development Camp over the summer.

Now, Zech is turning heads in the NCAA, teaming up with Kallen to form a strong pairing for fluctuating program currently in a lull.

“It’s been really well, we’ve been playing really well together,” Kallen said over the weekend on his chemistry with Zech. “Especially him being young I feel like he moves the puck really well and I just try to get open when he has the puck and he does the same for me.”

Zech’s seven points (1 G, 6 A) are tied for second in team scoring, and Kallen has had a hand in on six of those points.

Offensive defenseman — especially those of Zech’s 5-foot-9 stature — usually get a bad knock for defensive deficiencies. However, Kallen and Zech sit at plus-5 and plus-2, respectively, which are fair numbers given the Bulldogs’ losing record and negative goal differential.

They have shown chemistry in both zones, sharing a vision of the ice that allows them to feed off of each other while simultaneously covering holes that come with joining the rush. They’re a bright spot in Big Rapids and could be the recipe for success over the next two seasons.

Kallen and Zech will lead the Bulldogs into Mankato for a series against No. 3-ranked Minnesota State, which sits at 7-1. Tune in to catch the pair of 7 PM games on Friday and Saturday live, right here on FloHockey.

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.

Q&A With NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton About New Recruiting Guidelines

Shortly after a 20-person College Hockey Committee came up with new guidelines to curtail recruiting of pre-high schoolers, committee member and NCHC commissioner Josh Fenton spoke with FloHockey’s Tim Rappleye. Fenton was the driving force behind the committee’s two-year effort to stabilize a system that was clearly flawed by underage recruiting.

College Hockey Inc. Rolls Out New Recruiting Timeline

Last Friday, a much-needed proposal to restructure college hockey’s flawed recruiting environment was rolled out. An internal college hockey committee and the advocacy group College Hockey Inc. had spent two years trying to educate the relevant parties to the nuance of “verbal commitments” and “verbal agreements.” The most important part of their labors was revealed last week, presenting a new timeline to eliminate recruiting prospects who are still in middle school. 

2019 NHL Draft Class: USA Boasts Exciting NCAA Commits

The 2018-19 U.S. National Team Development Program, which highlights early mock drafts for the 2019 NHL Draft and college commitments, projects an extra-exciting 2019-20 NCAA season.

Men's Regional Sites Announced For 2020 & 2021

The regional sites for 2020 and 2021 have been announced. 

Hockey East Secures A Sweep Of College Hockey's Major Awards.

UMass' Cale Makar, who recently joined Colorado Avalanche for their playoff run, became the school's first Hobey Baker Award winner in addition to a bevy of other honors.

Filip Larsson One-And-Done Following Freshman Season At Denver

After leading the Denver Pioneers to a resurgent season, freshman goaltender Filip Larsson inked a three-year, entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings on Monday, forgoing his last three years with the program. 

Cale Makar Wastes No Time Making NHL History

Add another accolade to Cale Makar’s resume. 

2019 Hobey Baker Award Winner: Cale Makar, UMass


It was no question that Cale Makar would be taking this year’s Hobey Baker Memorial Award home with him. 

Cale Makar's Colossal Season Continues With Colorado

After leading the UMass Minutemen to a historic season, defenseman Cale Makar signed an entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche, prepping him for imminent action in Colorado’s playoff series with the Calgary Flames.

Providence Looks Back At Incredible 2019 Season

BUFFALO, N.Y. — For even the most ardent supporters of the Providence Friars men’s hockey program, it would be easy to have been a bit too close to the forest to see the trees on Thursday night.