Broncos Cardiac Unit Arrives Just in Time

The Western Michigan University Broncos hockey team hadn't done it all season long but in two consecutive games the Broncos not only managed to overcome deficits but they were also able to overcome 2-goal deficits in both games against the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks. This time the Broncos overcame a 4-2 deficit in the third period to win 5-4 in front of a crowd of 2,923 fans.

Early on in the contest it seemed as if the Nanooks would runaway with the game as the Broncos found themselves in a 2-0 hole just 31 seconds into the contest. However the Broncos never quit and peppered the Nanooks goaltender senior Preston McKay with a season high 48 shots.

The Nanooks got on the board just 24 seconds into the contest when in the slot Tom Herman backhanded a pass from Jason Grinevitch past Broncos goaltender Scott Foster into the back of the net. Seven seconds later Curtis Fraser scored the first of his two goals by placing the puck top shelf on a sharp wrist shot giving the Nanooks two goals in the first two shots of the game.

The Broncos settled down and went to work in an attempt to chip away at the Nanooks 2-0 lead. Their effort was rewarded at the 4:44 mark of the first period when Lucas Drake put the Broncos on the board with a one-timer off of a rebound. Just over ten minutes later the Nanooks regained their two goal lead when the Broncos turned over the puck and Jared Sylvestre was there to put the puck in the net from the right hash mark.

The second period was dominated by the Broncos. With the Broncos peppering McKay with shot after shot Paul Szczechura found space in between McKay and the right post on a shot off of a rebound. Szczechura's goal was his fourth of the season and it pulled the Broncos back to within one at 3-2 just 45 seconds into the period.

Twenty eight seconds later the Nanooks regained their two goal lead for the third time on a backhand from Fraser for his second goal. The rest of the period saw the Broncos control the play but with the 18-7 advantage in shots in the period for the Broncos they were not able to get any by McKay. McKay had some help though from the crossbar. Twice McKay was beat by a shot from a Bronco only to see the puck hit the crossbar and fly harmlessly away from the net.

Heading into the series the Nanooks were 6-0-0 when leading after two periods and the Broncos were 0-5-0 when trailing after two periods. On Friday the Broncos persistence was finally rewarded with 3 unanswered goals. Saturday the Broncos had to call on the cardiac unit again to try to come away with the win. The Broncos pressure again paid off just 1:55 into the third period when Drake buried the puck past McKay to pull the Broncos to within one at 4-3. With just over 6 minutes left in the game there was a big pile up in front of McKay and McKay was shaken up in the scramble. As he was being looked at by trainer Mike Curtin Coach Culhane pulled his team over to the bench and designed a play for the upcoming face of.

When play was resumed sophomore won the face off and slid the puck to Mike Jarmuth along the blue line. When in position Jarmuth ripped a wrist shot through traffic at the 14:00 mark that found the back of the net and tied the game at 4-4. Nanooks head coach Guy Gadowsky was still upset that a goaltender interference call wasn't made prior to the faceoff.

Gadowsky's frustration however would be heightened three minutes and twenty three seconds later when the Broncos scored the game winning goal on a controversial call. With another scramble in front of the net Paul Davies put a shot under the cross bar as the net was coming up off of its moorings. The net was still on it's moorings but wasn't flat on the ice when it crossed the goal line. However, referee Brian Aaron didn't see it that way and the line of Drake, Davies and Pat Dwyer were on the ice again for 3 of the Broncos 5 goals scored in the game. In fact 2 of the 3 third period goals were scored by the Drake, Davies and Dwyer line. Fraser received a 10-minute misconduct for arguing to Aaron about the call on the goal.

The Broncos more than doubled the amount of shots the Nanooks took finishing with a 48-21 advantage in shots. The Nanooks took one more penalty than the Broncos, finishing with 5 penalties for 18 minutes compared to the Broncos 4 penalties for 8 minutes.

The Broncos (11-9-3, 7-6-2 CCHA) are now in a tie for fourth with 16 points and only three points out of first place. In fact 8 teams are separated by 3 points. With each weekend becoming more and more important no team can afford to let up in search for a home playoff series in the CCHA Tournament. The Broncos hit the road again when they travel to Omaha, Nebraska to take on the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks next weekend. Game time for both games is 7:35pm. The Nanooks (9-11-0, 8-8-0 CCHA) are also tied for fourth in the CCHA. They return home to take on the Northern Michigan University Wildcats next weekend at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska. Game time for their weekend series is 7:00pm (11:00pm EST).

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