Broncos Defuse the Chargers

While most people were home for the Thanksgiving weekend the Western Michigan University Broncos hosted the University of Alabama Huntsville Saturday night at Lawson Arena. Despite most of the students away for the weekend the Broncos student section did there best among the 2,071 in attendance to cheer on the Broncos in a 5-1 win over the Chargers in the first game of the weekend series.

Brent Walton, the league leader in goals and points scored was at his usual self. Walton scored his 10th goal of the season and recorded his 12th assist. He is also 3rd in the nation in scoring and recorded his 10th multiple-point game of the season. Walton helped open up the scoring when he was stopped on a shot by the Chargers goalie Scott Munroe while both teams were skating with a man in the penalty box. Munroe gave up a rebound that Paul Szczechura was able to stuff into the net behind Munroe at the 6:06 mark of the first period.

Walton then got the Broncos on the board again at 17:25 of the first period. With the Broncos skating on a 4-on-3 power play Walton shot a laser from the blue line that found the back of the net and gave the Broncos a 2-0 lead which they would never relinquish. Walton's play earned him the games first star honors.

Another strong effort for the Broncos came in the form of Daniel Bellissimo. The freshman goaltender has steadily gained confidence and improved his game as the season has progressed. Bellissimo was peppered with 36 shots in the game failing to stop just one shot, two if you count the shot that was kicked in and ruled no-goal. Bellissimo stopped all 11 shots in the first period, 14 of the 15 shots in the second period and all 10 shots in the third period. The only goal against Bellissimo came 9:41 into the second period when the Chargers were pressuring the Broncos. Brett McConnachie was able to go top shelve from just outside the crease which shortened the Broncos lead to 3-1.

The Broncos made the lead 3-0 at 6:46 of the second when Jim McNamara was able to tap in a loose puck to the left of Munroe.

Bellissimo's performance earned him second star honors and his brother Vince earned third star honors while also recording two points on the night. Vince Bellissimo helped set up McNamara's goal then with just 21 seconds elapsed in the third period he stuffed home a wrap-around goal. The Broncos scored their final goal on a 5-on-3 power play with 39 seconds left in the contest. From the right face-off circle Jason Moul scored his first goal of the season by lifting a wrist shot past Munroe.

The Chargers entered the contest as the NCAA's highest-scoring team (4.2 avg.) but finished the game scoring a season-low one goal. The Broncos were also able to hold the nation's leading scorer, Jared Ross, to 0 points for the game. Another accomplishment for the Broncos is they did not allow the Chargers to score on the power play, no other team has been able to do that this season. The Chargers came into the weekend series scoring on the power play 26.8% of the time this season.

In the past five seasons the Broncos have amassed a 21-10-3 record against non-conference opponents, which includes a 3-0-0 record against teams from College Hockey America. Three of the Broncos 5 goals came on the power play. After a slow start this season on the power play, the Broncos have registered a power play goal in 11 of their 13 games so far.

The Broncos (6-6-1) and the Chargers (6-3-2) face-off again Sunday at 3:00pm Sunday matinee contest.

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