WMU Shells Colorado College, Earns Sweep in First NCHC Series

WMU Media File

The Western Michigan Broncos used a high-scoring 2nd period to down the Colorado College Tigers Saturday night at Lawson Ice Arena 5-1. The win earned them a sweep in their first ever NCHC series.

After the game, Western Michigan head coach Andy Murray didn't looked pleased with his team's performance.  Despite winning 5-1 over a decent Colorado College team, and thus earning a sweep in their first series in one of the toughest conferences in the NCAA, Murray saw many things for his team to work on.

"You score 5 goals, it's nice to see, but the fact that Frank (Slubowski) had to make as many saves as he made tonight is disappointing," Murray said after the game.  "We're pleased with the win, but we've got a lot of room for growth.  That second period, we stopped skating.  We're disappointed we gave up as many chances as we did tonight."

The Broncos (3-2-1, 2-0-0), after taking a 3-0 lead, did appear to let the Tigers (1-5-0, 1-3-0) get shots on Slubowski due to sloppy play.  After taking a 13-6 shot on goal advantage, Colorado College then racked up shots in bunches, eventually taking the SOG advantage and holding it most of the way.  In fact, the 20 shots the Tigers got on the Broncos in that period tied the most conceded by Murray's club in any one period this season so far.

The game actually started out with a lot of back-and-forth play, mainly controlled by the Broncos.  Eventually, the Broncos would get a decent look and cycled the puck to the slot where power-play point guard Dennis Brown saw a lane and threw a shot on net.  After getting a deflection from a Tiger defender, the senior defenseman netted his 2nd goal of the season and just his 8th career goal.

That period, the Broncos outshot their new conference foe by a margin of 11-1.  They would open the second period with more strong play, as senior captain Chase Balisy stole a puck from a Tiger defender and threw a shot on Josh Thorimbert.  Similar to last night's game-ending goal, Thorimbert made the initial save, but the puck fell behind him and into the net, this time on its own.

The Broncos would strike again 3 minutes later, as Justin Kovacs, almost paying back line-mate Josh Pitt for a great assist last night, found Pitt in the left wing.  Pitt would bury home a shot for his 5th career goal and the 2nd of the season (and at the time, was thought to be the 2nd of the night, later overturned).

Then the relaxed play began and the Tigers awoke.

While Colorado College would pepper Slubowski with shots, the junior net-minder would make save after save, with some huge stops.  Eventually though, the Tigers found a hole, in the form of what appeared to be a trickling pass that Slubowski never saw.  After finally seeing the puck, he was too far out of position, and Scott Wamsganz was credited with his first career goal.

However, Western Michigan would strike back just moments later, with Kovacs finding a hole deep in the right wing.  His shot from close to the end-line found its way behind Thorimbert and into the net to extend the lead back to three goals just 21 seconds after the Tiger goal.

The Broncos would then kill a Balisy penalty to start the 3rd period, who then came out of the box to find Colton Hargrove streaking down the wing.  Hargrove would bury the shot for the Broncos' 5th goal of the night and his team-leading 3rd goal of the season.

On the weekend, the Broncos failed to convert on the 5 power-play opportunities.  However, they did manage to kill all 10 of the Tiger power-plays.  In all, Murray seemed content with his penalty killing units.

"We're pleased with our PK unit.  They got a lot more practice (on the power-play) than we did.  We have to make sure we monitor our discipline.  It's not just our young players that are taking some unnecessary penalties, it's some of our veterans.  There's a different kind of game called in the NCHC and we have to adjust to the way the game's being called."

Next weekend, the Broncos take on former CCHA foe Northern Michigan in a rare Saturday-Sunday series.  Game time is slated for 7:05 pm on Saturday and 5:05 pm Sunday.  Both games are at Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo, MI.

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