Icers Skate Through Fog, Buckeyes

In conditions reminiscent of an old-time hockey game played on a pond on a foggy day the 2,012 fans at Lawson Ice Arena were treated to a hat trick, a game-winning goal by an unlikely player, and some very physical play. The 6-3 win for the Broncos is the first in two weeks and took down the CCHA's first place team.

Freshman walk-on Jeff Pierce, who arrived at WMU a year later the he originally planned, was at the right place at the right time taking advantage of his opportunity to not only score his first ever goal at the college level but score the game winner.

"Obviously a moment that Pierce will remember for a long time," said head coach Jim Culhane.

Pierce, in the midst of his celebration of the goal, crashed into the boards in all the excitement. "It was supposed to be a dive into the glass," said Pierce. "I was just farther away then I thought I was and it looked like I just fell into the boards. I was just so excited."

"He's quite the character in all aspects," said Vince Bellissimo. "He's just a team guy and when he was sitting out earlier in the year he didn't complain and the hard work has paid off."

The other hero of the night was Bellissimo with his first career hat trick coming on his third through fifth goals of the season. The last goal was an empty netter, "I didn't even know I had scored," said Bellissimo. "I just shot it straight and hoped the net was in front of me."

"I thought [Bellissimo] had a good game," said Culhane "Anytime you've scored three goals you've had a heck of a night."

The real story of the night, however, was the surreal game conditions both teams had to deal with. Fog, and lots of it arose from ice level reducing visibility for both the players and fans alike.

"It's just the story of our facilities," said Culhane of the fog on ice level and the heat in the locker rooms. "We don't have air conditioning in here… I'm soaking wet myself."

"I saw that happen in the NHL one time," said Bellissimo of the fog. "I never thought I would see it here though."

The conditions were not noticeable through the first period as the Buckeyes' Rob Pelley put OSU up 1-0 on an unassisted goal off a defensive zone turnover.

As the zambonis resurfaced the ice in the first intermission the fog slowly began to grow on the glass near the zamboni entrance.

The fog was still a minimal factor as Bellissimo single handedly put the Broncos up 2-1 on goals just two minutes apart – one shorthanded and the other on the power play. The period would finish tied 2-2 after JB Bittner scored the equalizer.

The third period would see the worst of the fog along with a pair of lead changes and 46 penalty minutes tied to some very physical play.

Johann Kroll would put the Buckeyes on top just a minute into the third, but that lead would only last six minutes before the Broncos took control. Brent Walton would score on the power play to tie the game back up three minutes before Pierce netted the game winner.

Brian Bicek, a freshman center who played on the left wing tonight, scored his first goal of the season on a feed from Pat Dwyer to put the Broncos up by two.

Following a time-out by coach John Markell for OSU goalie Dave Caruso was pulled on the power play to put the Buckeyes up two skaters in an attempt to equalize the score. The strategy failed as the Broncos won a face-off in their own zone allowing Walton and Bellissimo to skate to the empty net almost unchallenged.

Then in show of sportsmanship from one teammate to another Walton gave up his chance for his second goal of the night and dropped the puck back to the awaiting Bellissimo to finish the hat trick. "I thought it was a real unselfish play by Brent Walton to him the puck of the six-on-four and for him to make the play to Vince so Vince could get the hat trick," said Culhane.

The game would finish with some physical play in front of the OSU net that would see Kevin LaBatte, Darryl Moore and OSU's Matt Waddell each receive 2-minute roughing penalties and 10-minute misconducts. The third period would in fact see six of the games ten roughing penalties en route to a game filled by 80 penalty minutes as referee Craig Lisko did all he could to maintain control of the game.

The two teams will face-off again tomorrow (Saturday) night at 7:35pm in the rematch and game two of the four times these cluster-mates will face each other this season.

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