Broncos Take on Spartans

The Western Michigan hockey team hopes to build some momentum against a struggling Michigan State team. A home-and-home series starts tonight in East Lansing and finishes with "Blackout Saturday" in Kalamazoo tomorrow.

On the heels of some outstanding goaltending from both Mike Mantua and Scott Foster, head coach Jim Culhane has some tough decisions. Although not set in stone, Foster is expected to get the start tonight against the Spartans with Mantua starting Saturday at home.

A seemingly wise decision since Foster was much more solid in net on the road, while Mantua feeds off the emotions of the game and crowd to produce some exciting hockey at home games.

On the injury front senior captain Dana Lattery was officially questionable for last weekends tilts with Nebraska-Omaha but played though the wrist injury to earn CCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors with 3 goals and an assist in the 2 games. Expect Lattery to play through his injury again this weekend.

Also Brent Walton, Trevor Cooke, and Mat Ponto have been injured this season. Walton hasn't missed games due to his injury while Cooke missed the same games as Lattery and Ponto has yet to be in the line-up this season.

For Michigan State injuries have hit the team early as well. Lee Falardeau (knee) and Adam Nightingale (concussion) aren't expected to play this weekend, and Chris Snavely (shoulder) is questionable for the series.

Injuries have been the least of the Spartans' worries however. Last weekend MSU hosted Ohio State and were swept by the Buckeyes by a combined score of 9-1. That was the first sweep MSU has suffered at home since the 1995 season and the first ever to the Buckeyes.

Rick Comley's team has also had marginal goaltending out of Matt Migliaccio and Dominic Vicari. Both have had tough outings against Ohio State and neither has established them self as the true #1 goaltender for the team.

Culhane isn't taking the series lightly though. He told the press both teams have the same challenge in front of hostile home crowds, and winning at MSU would be a big accomplishment for his team. Michigan State is a good team with a lot of talent and isn't going to make either game easy for the Broncos. MSU should come out with a sense of extra motivation and redemption in the home tilt, while WMU always seems to be extra fired up for the big games in front of the Lawson rowdies.

Currently Jim Slater is the only Spartan with more than a single goal scored and one of only two players with more then 2 points on the young season. For WMU nine players have multiple points and 5 of those have multiple goals scored with Vince Bellissimo, Brent Walton, Dana Lattery, and Jim McNamara leading the way for the Broncos.

Recent history suggests that the home team should win both nights. MSU hasn't lost to WMU at Munn Ice Arena since 1993 while WMU is 6-3-1 since 1995 when hosting the Spartans. Last season MSU won both meetings 4-0 at Lawson and 8-5 at Munn.

Both games this weekend are already sold-out. However they can both be heard on the Bronco Radio Network led by COOL101 WQSN 100.9fm and on the Internet at www.wmubroncos.com. Game time Friday is 7pm and Saturday is 8pm.

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