Broncos Look to Rebound at Niagara

Western Michigan (3-5-2 overall) travels to up-state New York this weekend (Nov. 14-15) to take on Niagara (3-4-0 overall) of College Hockey America in a two-game, non-conference series. Faceoff is 7:05 p.m. both nights at Dwyer Arena (2,000).

Western Michigan "Broncos"
@ Niagara "Purple Eagles"
Nov. 14-15 *Niagara University, N.Y.
RADIO: Bronco Radio Network, Cool 101 FM
Kory Lee, play-by-play
TELEVISION: Adelphia Cable, Friday

The Niagara-WMU series is still in its early stages, as the Purple Eagles arrived on the Division I scene in 1996-97. The teams met for the first time in 1999-00 with Niagara advancing to the NCAA Tournament the same year. WMU swept both games in its only visit to Niagara (in 2000-01) and has won three straight in the series.
All-TIME: WMU leads, 4-1-0
@ NIA: WMU leads, 2-0-0

Western Michigan posted a 7-3 win in Kalamazoo behind a 32-save performance from Mike Mantua, who was named No. 1 Star. The Broncos scored twice in the opening five minutes, then added four more goals in the second period. WMU's Brent Walton and Paul Davies scored twice, as did Niagara's Joe Tallari.

Nov. 8, 2003 ? UAF 4, WMU 0
Alaska Fairbanks completed a weekend sweep with a 4-0 victory, peppering 42 shots on goal. G Scott Foster kept the game close with 38 saves. UAF sophomore Kelly Czuy scored twice, finishing the series with eight points (4-4). Cam Keith also added two goals for the Nanooks. The Broncos' last road shutout loss occurred a year ago to the day.
Nov. 7, 2003 ? UAF 5, WMU 4 OT
The Broncos opened a three-goal lead in the first period behind a pair of Jeremy Cheyne goals. UAF answered with four straight tallies, taking a 4-3 lead late into the game. The Broncos pulled G Scott Foster for an extra skater and the move paid off when Jeff Campbell buried a shot with 51 seconds left in regulation. UAF, however, pulled out the win in overtime on Nathan Fornataro's goal at the 3:33 mark.
Nov. 1, 2003 ? WMU 3, CU 2
WMU snapped an eight-game winless streak against Cornell with a 3-2 victory, fueled by goals from Ryan Mahrle, Pat Dwyer (SH) and Jeff Campbell (PP). G Scott Foster made 31 saves to give WMU its first win against a ranked road opponent in eight seasons.
Oct. 31, 2003 ? WMU 5, CU 5 OT
Brent Walton scored a pair of goals as WMU skated to a 5-5 overtime tie against Cornell in its season opener. The Broncos took a 5-3 lead into the third period before CU scored twice, with the game-tying goal coming on an extra attacker with 28 seconds left in regulation. For the first time during the season, WMU outshot its opponent (28-26).
Oct. 25, 2003 ? MSU 7, WMU 3
Michigan State's top line of Mike Lalonde (1-2), Jim Slater (2-3) and Tommy Goebel (1-2) accounted for four goals and seven assists to lead the Spartans to a 7-3 win at Lawson. The trio also swept Perani Cup Stars of the Game honors as MSU finished 4-for-7 on the power play and with a 30-16 advantage in shots.

The Purple Eagles have three wins against 2003 NCAA Tournament teams, including an impressive 5-2 triumph over finalist New Hampshire. Niagara has also defeated Wayne State twice. Against CCHA competition, Dave Burkholder's club has suffered losses at Michigan (6-2) and Bowling Green (4-2). The birds feature a proven scorer in senior F Joe Tallari, who has 44 career goals and 97 points in 113 games. Tallari currently stands fourth in team scoring (0-5-5) behind leader Barret Ehgoetz (7-3-10). Freshman F Jeremy Hall is off to a fast start, producing six points (4-2) in seven contests. In net, sophomore Jeff VanNynatten (3.63 GAA, .864%) and senior Rob Bonk (2.63, .899%) have split time. Bonk is a product of the U.S. National U-18 program. Coach Burkholder sports a record of 35-38-6 in three seasons at Niagara. The Purple Eagles have played just one home game and have their next four on the road.

The Broncos have done their part to advance the CCHA cause when taking on opponents from other conferences. Jim Culhane's club is 15-7-3 against non-league foes over the past four seasons, highlighted by a win and tie against Frozen Four participant Cornell a few weeks back. WMU will have a chance to improve on its non-conference record with games scheduled against Niagara (2), Mercyhurst (2) and Colgate (2) in the coming weeks. Listed below is WMU's success rate against the various conferences since the 2000-01 season.
CHA: 5-1-0 (Alabama-Huntsville 1-1-0, Findlay 1-0-0, Niagara 3-0-0)
AHC: 4-0-0 (Canisius 2-0-0, Sacred Heart 2-0-0)
ECAC: 4-2-1 (Colgate 1-0-0, Cornell 1-2-1, Dartmouth 2-0-0)
HE: 2-2-2 (Maine 1-1-2, Merrimack 1-0-0, Providence 0-1-0)
WCHA: 0-2-0 (Colorado College 0-2-0)

While WMU's No. 1 goaltending job is far from being decided, sophomore Scott Foster has logged extensive ice time of late. Foster has started four straight games and responded with 30 or more saves in his last three contests. His 38-saves effort Saturday at Alaska Fairbanks marked a career high. You could say Foster's good fortunes have been in the cards, afterall he stuffs cardboard hockey photos in his skates for good luck ? a ritual dating back to his pee wee days.

Defenseman Ryan Mahrle hasn't missed a beat in his rookie campaign with the Broncos, being paired with senior Mike Jarmuth on the top defensive line. Mahrle has shown the defensive skills that landed him a stint with the U.S. National U-18 Team and is providing some offense as well, generating six points (2-4) in 10 games. The 5-11, 175-pounder scored in both games of the Cornell series and leads Bronco defensemen in points.

"Niagara is a well-coached team under Dave Burkholder that always comes ready to play. They have two really skilled players in Joe Tallari and Barret Ehgoetz who we have to watch out for. We're excited about going on the road and taking on a team from another conference that we normally don't encounter."

The Broncos are spending their third straight week on the road and will have covered 7,260 miles by the time they return to Lawson. Jim Culhane's club begins a seven-game homestand next week that runs through Dec. 6 * RW Jeremy Cheyne, who designs web sites in his spare time, is about ready to launch a site devoted to Bronco Hockey * Jeff Campbell's extra attacker goal at UAF marked the first time in eight seasons the Broncos had scored with the goaltender pulled. Assistant Coach Chris Brooks drew up the 6-on-5 play between periods and the Broncos executed to perfection. Ironically, it was Brooks who had scored the last extra attacker goal, back on Jan. 26, 1996 against Colgate * Campbell is two points shy of 125 for his career while Dana Lattery needs six points to reach the 100-point plateau * the Brown & Gold have been out-shot in nine of 10 games * Western Michigan plays host to Mercyhurst in non-conference action next week (Nov. 21-22) at Lawson Arena.

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