Icers in Showdown With Spartans

The Western Michigan hockey team will be on TV for the third consecutive game when they host the Michigan State Spartans (11-10-1, 6-8-0 CCHA) in CCHA action tonight. The Broncos (9-10-1, 4-9-1 CCHA) have a resurgent offense that put up 9 goals on Michigan last weekend, ranks #3 in scoring offense in the CCHA and has the top power play in the conference… However, the Broncos have also dropped 3 of their last 4 games and sit in last place in the CCHA heading into the weekend tilt with MSU.

A big part of the surge in offense, which now stands at 3.4 goals per game, has been a change in the Broncos system of offensive zone coverage… i.e. fore-checking. "We used to send two guys on the fore-check trying to create a turnover," said had coach Jim Culhane. "Now we send just one."

And despite getting swept by Michigan this past weekend the new system "seems to be working well," according to Vince Bellissimo. The Broncos put up 4 goals last Friday and another 5 on Saturday against a normally stingy Wolverine defense that averages just 2.6 goals against this season.

That same type of offensive output will be needed as the Broncos take on the surprisingly inconsistent Spartans. With the third best defense (2.5 goals against) and the second best penalty kill (86%) in the CCHA, MSU will present a tight match-up for WMU who holds the conference's top power play (21.6%).

Currently the Broncos have on their roster the top goal scorer (15) and league points leader (33) in Brent Walton and the top assist man in Paul Szczechura (20). Freshman goaltender Daniel Bellissimo also leads the CCHA in saves (579).

Tonight's game will be at Lawson Ice Arena for a 7:30pm face-off, and a capacity crowd is expected although there are currently a handful of standing-room-only tickets ($9) still remaining. The game will be carried live on Comcast Local Sports and on the Bronco Radio Network. The two teams will travel to East Lansing for the rematch tomorrow night in Munn Ice Arena.

No More Krackers:

As reported here on Broncos Illustrated earlier this week in a Hot News Story, Jeff Kyrzakos has decided to leave Western Michigan to pursue more playing time with the Owen Sound Attack of the OHL.

Kyrzakos, a physical right-winger called "Krackers" by his teammates, appeared in only 7 Bronco games this season while not scoring any points. His last game as a Bronco was just last Friday in the 6-4 loss to U of M.

"Jeff is a high energy player that loves to play the body. He plays with a lot of character and his intensity level will fit well into our style of play," said Michael Futa, general manager of the Attack in a recent press release. Last spring Kyrzakos was listed as the 154th best draft eligible skater in North America by the NHL Central Scouting, he was not drafted however.

Kyrzakos told the Owen Sound Sun Times that his style of physical play would be a better fit for him in the OHL then it was playing college hockey.

Ironically, Kyrzakos was recruited to be a part of the 2005 recruiting class for next fall, but came a year early when Luc Dubbin left the Broncos for the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL in a similar fashion.

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