Road Warriors Return to Lawson

Western Michigan University (4-6-2 overall) begins a seven-game home stand this weekend (Nov. 21-22), playing host to Atlantic Hockey's Mercyhurst College (4-3-0 overall) of Erie, Pa. Friday's faceoff is slated for 7:35 p.m. at Lawson Arena (3,667) while Saturday's contest begins at 7:05 p.m.

Mercyhurst "Lakers"
@ Western Michigan "Broncos"
Nov. 21-22 *Kalamazoo, MI
RADIO: Bronco Radio Network, Cool 101 FM
Robin Hook/Kory Lee, play-by-play

Western Michigan owns a 4-0-0 record against schools from Atlantic Hockey, a league formed last year from the former Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference that lasted five seasons (1998-2002). The Broncos swept Canisius and Sacred Heart in Kalamazoo during the 2001-02 season.

Nov. 15, 2003 ? Niagara 3, WMU 2
Justin Cross' goal with 1:33 left in regulation lifted Niagara to a 3-2 win over Western Michigan. WMU opened a 2-0 lead as Reid Yantzi and Lucas Drake scored first-period goals. The Purple Eagles rallied behind a pair of strikes from Jeremy Hall, setting up the late game dramatics.
Nov. 14, 2003 ? WMU 3, Niagara 2
WMU placed a season-high 32 shots on goal to post a 3-2 win at Niagara. Jeff Campbell contributed a goal and assist while Brent Walton added two assists. The Purple Eagles scored with 10 seconds left in the game on an extra-attacker goal but ran out of time before finding the equalizer.
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.

This weekend's trip to Kalamazoo marks the start of 11 straight road games for coach Rick Gotkin's club. In fact, the Lakers won't return home until Jan. 9. To say the Lakers have balanced scoring would be an understatement. F Scott Reynolds, LW Adam Tackaberry and LW David Wrigley sport identical numbers (4-5-9) atop the team's scoring charts. The Lakers excel on special teams, posting the best power play unit (28.9%) in the AHC, outscoring opponents 11-6. Mercyhurst has also scored four short-handed goals in seven games. Western Michigan will be the third CCHA team Mercyhurst has faced this season. MC opened the season with a 5-3 loss at Michigan (Oct. 4) and defeated Ohio State, 3-2, in Columbus (Oct. 24). While the Lakers are visiting WMU for the first time, it was just three years ago that Gotkin's squad pushed Michigan to the limit at the NCAA Regionals held in Grand Rapids.

The Broncos have been plagued by injuries during the first third of the season, so much so that the starting lineup conceived by the coaching staff in preseason has been used just once this year. At various times this season, captain Dana Lattery, RW Jeremy Cheyne, LW Trevor Cook, D Mike Jarmuth, D Jim McNamara, D Mat Ponto and D Brian Pasko have been lost to injuries. RW Pat Dwyer has missed the last four games with an ankle injury and is questionable for this weekend. To make matters worse, several players are battling the flu this week. "It's something every team goes through, but we seem to have had more than our share of injuries this season," says Culhane.

The Hockey Broncos have several promotional events planned for this month at Lawson Arena:
*Nov. 22 ? Turkey Bowl
The ever-popular Turkey Bowl returns to Lawson. Select fans will bowl frozen turkeys into the goal with winners receiving a free Thanksgiving dinner courtesy of Hardings Market Place.
*Nov. 23 ? Broom Ball with the Broncos
WMU's "Care About Kids" and Kids Club programs, along with the Junior Bronco Blue Line Club, take on the Broncos in a friendly game of broom ball. For more information, contact Kim Thebo at (269) 387-2057.
*Nov. 29 ? Walter Gretzky appearance
Walter Gretzky, father of Wayne Gretzky, will sign autographs and greet fans during the Colgate game. The elder Gretzky has been honored by the Canadian government for his work with youth hockey and philanthropic fund raising.

"What we know of Mercyhurst is that they have played two CCHA teams tough on the road. They went into Yost Arena and gave Michigan a good game, and you're talking about one of the toughest rinks in the nation to play in. They also got a win at the Schottenstein Arena against Ohio State, so obviously we will have our hands full this weekend."

Freshman C Luke Dubbin has left the team, opting to continue his playing career in major juniors. Dubbin did not register any points in four games with the Broncos * coming off a six-game road trip, Jim Culhane's club doesn't hit the road again until a three-game exhibition tour of Canadian schools, Dec. 17-19 * sophomore G Scott Foster has started six straight games, posting a 3.43 GAA and .888 saves percentage during that period * after being out-shot in nine of 10 games, the Broncos finished with shot advantages in both games of the Niagara series * WMU is now 16-8-3 against non-conference opponents over the last four seasons * LW Lucas Drake was named Bronco Player of the Week for his play in the Niagara series * senior LW Jeff Campbell needs 12 points to break into the WMU Top 25 scoring list. He leads active Broncos with 127 career points * freshman D Ryan Mahrle leads all rookies and defensemen on the team in scoring with seven points (2-5) * freshman RW Brett John made his collegiate debut last Friday at Niagara * WMU is averaging 13.1 penalty minutes a game ? the third lowest average in the CCHA * Western Michigan plays host to Bowling Green next Tuesday (Nov. 25) prior to entertaining Colgate on Friday and Saturday (Nov. 28-29).

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