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Union Dutchmen vs Western Michigan Broncos Recap: Broncos Win Shillelagh Tournament With 8-2 Drubbing of Defending National Champions

The Western Michigan Broncos traveled to South Bend this weekend to take part in a loaded Shillelagh Tournament and came home champions following an 8-2 drubbing of the defending national champion Union Dutchmen

WMU Media File/GS Photo

For a second straight year, the Western Michigan Bronco hockey team will return to Kalamazoo with a holiday tournament title in their hands.

After finishing 3rd last season in the Shillelagh Tournament, an annual four-team tournament hosted by Notre Dame at their gem of a hockey arena (the Compton Family Ice Arena), the Broncos came back hungry against an even more stacked group of teams participated this season.  Nevertheless, after dispatching former CCHA foe Ohio State by a score of 6-2 last night, Andy Murray got his team to punch the defending national champions in the mouth from the get-go to capture this year's title by a score of 8-2.

"We had to put the hammer down right away on (Union)," Bronco head coach Andy Murray said after the game.  "We were physical, no doubt about it, but we had good traffic in front of the net, and I really liked our transition game tonight."

And his team did come out on fire.  Nolan LaPorte started the scoring for the Broncos with his 3rd goal of the season just 3:31 into the game on a power-play.  It would be the first of a huge night for both the Broncos and LaPorte, as the junior would finish with three goals, but would be shown the gate late in the 2nd period for a game misconduct.

After some back and forth play, the Broncos struck again midway through the opening period.  Colton Hargrove cleaned up a quick rebound on a shot by Matt Stewart for his 3rd goal of the season.  Just 11 seconds later, J.T. Osborn scored his 2nd goal in as many nights with a seeing eye shot that got past Colin Stevens.  After Sheldon Dries finished a rebound chance in front on a power play roughly three minutes later to make it 4-0, Stevens was replaced by Alex Sakellaropoulos.

Union would come out quite dominant in the 2nd period, but Lukas Hafner made save after save on the Dutchmen, facing a total of 21 shots in the period (which is a lot for you non-hockey people).  However, Roman Ammirato was able to beat the junior netminder midway through the period for his first career goal on a power-play.  It would only take 31 seconds for the Broncos to get it back though, as LaPorte found the back of the net for his 2nd goal of the evening.

Following LaPorte's third goal with 3:34 to go in the 2nd period, the junior was called for high sticking very early in a penalty kill opportunity.  On his way to the box, he was given a game misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct and was shown the gate, leaving the Broncos on a 5-on-3 penalty kill as well.  While Murray's squad held their own for roughly 1:30, Jeff Taylor was able to beat Hafner on a hard shot from the slot to make it 6-2.

Dries and Stewart would each add a goal in the third period, with Stewart's coming with just one minute remaining.  His goal was his first of the season.

The win moves the Broncos to just 5-8-1 on the season, but with such a young team, they could be hitting their stride heading into a tough conference slate.

SHILLELAGH ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM:
F - Frederik Tiffels (WMU) 3 goals - 1 assist, 1 assist against Union
F - Nolan LaPorte (WMU) 3 goals
F - Justin Kovacs (WMU) [MOP] 7 assists, 5 against Union
D - Jeff Taylor (Union) 1 goal - 1 assist against WMU
D - Kenney Morrison (WMU) 1 goal - 1 assist, 1 assist against Union
G - Lukas Hafner (WMU) Win vs Union