The puck has officially dropped on the 2021-2022 men’s hockey season. Although the MAC doesn’t have its own hockey conference, three of its member schools play ice hockey in hockey specific conferences. Both Western Michigan and Miami are members of the NCHC, while Bowling Green calls the CCHA home.
Miami RedHawks (1-1)
Miami got the show started back on October 2nd with an away game at Ferris State in Big Rapids, MI. After going down 0-1 on early a shorthanded goal, the RedHawks responded just 18 seconds later with a powerplay goal of their own to tie the score at 1-1. Both teams would trade goals once again before the Bulldogs tallied two late scores to take a 4-2 lead into the first intermission. From there Miami ripped off 5 unanswered goals to claim a 7-4 victory. Six different RedHawks got in on the scoring action, with Ryan Savage leading the charge with two goals of his own.
The teams got back together again on October 3rd for a rematch in Big Rapids. This time Miami would draw first blood as PJ Fletcher scored just 2:43 into the game. The game remained within one score throughout regulation as neither team was able to seize control. The third period ended with a tie score of 3-3 and we were off to overtime. Just 1:48 into the overtime period Stepan Pokorny of Ferris State lit the lamp and ended the game, sending the RedHawks home with an overtime loss.
Miami will travel to East Lansing to take on Michigan State for a pair of games on October 15th and 16th.
Bowling Green (1-0-1)
The Falcons got their season underway with an exhibition matchup against the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines roster contains an unheard of four of the top five players taken in the 2021 NHL Draft. Needless to say, Bowling Green was up to a tall task. The game went about as you’d expect as Michigan won 7-1 in dominating fashion. Fortunately this was just an exhibition game and the Falcons left without a blemish on their record.
Their first official game of the season came against the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Engineers in Troy, New York, on October 8th. This game got off to a much better start for the Falcons as they scored first on a powerplay goal from Nathan Burke partway through the first period. The Falcons held their 1-0 lead until early in the third period. RPI answered with two quick goals to put Bowling Green down 1-2. The Falcons answered less than two minutes later to knot it up at 2-2. Neither team could break the deadlock in regulation and the game headed to overtime. The overtime period came and went and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
The teams met again the following night with both teams eager to bring home a win. Game two was almost a repeat of their first match up with a back and forth game that ended regulation in a 2-2 draw. The Falcons broke the script in overtime with Nathan Burke driving home the game winner just 1:40 into the overtime period. Bowling Green’s record is now sitting at 1-0-1.
Next up for Bowling Green is a home and home series with the Miami RedHawks on October 22nd and 23rd. Saturday’s game is their first home game of the season is designated as an Orange Out, so Falcon fans get out and support your team!
Western Michigan (2-0)
The Broncos also opened their season with an exhibition against a Big Ten conference foe, but they faired much better as they traveled to Columbus, Ohio, on October 2nd and took down the Buckeyes 3-1. Ethen Frank opened the scoring on a powerplay goal in the first period. The Buckeyes answered in the second period to tie it 2-2. The Broncos added two more goals in the first period to secure the 3-1 exhibition win. It won’t count in the record books, but it certainly never hurts your confidence to win a game against a Big Ten school.
The real season got underway on October 8th with a home and home series against the Bulldogs of Ferris State. After a back and forth first period the Broncos broke through on a late goal from Paul Washe. This wound up being the game winner as Western Michigan goalie Brandon Bussi held the Bulldogs scoreless for his first career shutout. The Broncos would go on to add three more insurance goals to secure a 4-0 victory.
On Saturday night the Broncos hopped on the bus and traveled up US-131 to meet the Bulldogs in Big Rapids, MI. Western Michigan found themselves in a 0-2 hole at the end of the first period and had some work to do. They fought back and managed to tie it up at 2-2 midway through the third period. Ferris State briefly re-took the lead before Western tied it up once again. With just over a minute remaining in regulation Bronco Jason Polin lit the lamp for the game winner and secured the 4-3 victory to keep the Broncos undefeated.
The Broncos entered the weekend unranked, but were one of of the top teams in the “others receiving votes” category. After an undefeated weekend they’ll anxiously await for the next rankings to be released.
Next up for Western Michigan is a home and home series with Michigan. They’ll travel down I-94 to Ann Arbor for a matchup on Friday, October 22nd before returning back to Kalamazoo for a rematch on Saturday, October 23rd.