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WMU sleep-walks over Alabama-Huntsville 1-0

The Western Michigan Bronco hockey team didn't bring their A-Game to the Shillelagh Tournament consolation game, but they still managed a victory behind the shutout from Frank Slubowski

WMU Media File

After dropping Friday's first round game against Northeastern in a shootout, Frank Slubowski and the Western Michigan Bronco hockey team had the chance to make history against an Alabama-Huntsville Charger team that has struggled all season in all facets of the game.

Unfortunately, due to a poor offensive performance, a few momentum killing penalties, and an equipment failure, all Bronco fans (however many were there, I'd say maybe 10-20) saw was a 1-0 victory that was ruled a split shutout for both Slubowski and back-up Lukas Hafner.

After coming out strong, the Broncos drew a penalty just 33 seconds into the game.  On the ensuing power-play, sophomore transfer Sam Mellor threw a shot on Charger goaltender Carmine Guerriero that was deflected by Shane Berschbach.  Despite initially making the save, Guerriero's rebound went right to a wide-open Kyle Novak, who calmly put away his 4th goal of the season just 2 minutes into the game.

The next 58 minutes would be a snooze-fest.

Both teams would fire pucks on their respective opponent's net, but both Slubowski and Guerriero were superb, stopping every shot they saw.  Both offenses had their chances, and rang posts, but as the game went on, both goaltenders got better.

However, mid-way through the 3rd period, with a chance to tie the WMU career shutout record, Slubowski had to head to the bench due to an equipment problem.  After just two minutes, he returned, but those two minutes cost him the record (for now) as the official ruling, according to Western Michigan SID Adam Bodnar, "(Slubowski) is receiving a partial shutout due to the fact that (Lukas) Hafner had to enter the game and play meaningful minutes." [paraphrase partially used]

Chase Balisy would miss an open net with 10 seconds left, but the Broncos still held on to win 1-0 over the 0-14-0 Chargers.  Alabama-Huntsville however did have their best statistical game in net, with 28 saves on 29 Bronco shots, a .966 save percentage.  The 1 goal allowed matched an earlier game for fewest allowed.

Now the Broncos return home next weekend to face perennial powerhouse North Dakota at Lawson Ice Arena.  Game time is set for 7:05 pm for both games, with Friday's game being televised on CBS Sports Network.