Skaters Slip Against Notre Dame

The Bronco hockey team was coming off a sweep in their first weekend and was very hopeful of carrying the momentum into the series with Notre Dame (3-0-1, 2-0-0 CCHA). A 4-2 lose and an 8-5 lose for WMU (2-2-0, 2-2-0 CCHA) put a stop to the momentum, and has shown the team they have some work to do.

In front of 1,527 fans Friday night at the Joyce Center, on the campus of Notre Dame University, the Broncos fell to an early 1-0 deficit when Rob Globki put the puck past goalie Mike Mantua off a feed from Connor Dunlop. Western would fight back with a goal by Ben Gagnon at 9:04 of the first period. The day would end up being Gagnon's first multi-goal game of his college career, and would earn him Perani Cup third star of the game. Irish goals by Michael Chin and Yan Stastny would give Notre Dame a 3-1 lead after the first.

The second period would see no scoring from either team, but would see a third period where Globki put the game away with another goal off a Dunlop feed. The game would see its last goal at 9:54 of the third with Gagnon's second of the night. Morgan Cey would finish with 33 saves in the win, and Mike Mantua would stop 29 shots in the losing effort. "We put ourselves in a hole and we had to battle back" said Culhane after the game, "Give Cey credit, he played a great game."

Both teams traveled to Kalamazoo to play in front of a near sellout of 3,559 at Lawson Ice Arena and a South Bend TV audience on Saturday night. The scoring was non-stop with four goals in the first period, five in the second, and four in the third. Penalties were a big difference in this game with Notre Dame scoring on four of their seven power plays, while Western Michigan had a power play goal and a short-handed tally. Scott Foster started in goal for the Broncos after Mike Mantua took a lose the night before. Foster was pulled in favor of Mantua after letting in his fifth goal of the night just half way through the second period.

The Irish didn't need much shooting to get the victory. Only 27 shots were needed to tally the eight goals they scored on the night, and WMU only took 22 shots to end with five goals. The Irish went four for seven on the power play Saturday, while Dana Lattery put the Broncos down a skater with a clipping major that took Irish defenseman Jake Wiegand out of the game with an injury. The five-minute power play saw two goals for Notre Dame. "We took ourselves out of the game with the penalties and they scored on the power play" said Culhane, "I'm very unhappy with our performance all weekend long."

Fifteen Irish skaters finished with points on Saturday, including an Aaron Gill hat trick. Gill said of his efforts, "It was great to finally get on the board. My line mates, both at even-strength and on the power play, really set me up for some easy chances." With all the scoring, stars Dunlop and Globki, who each had three points Friday, were all but absent from the scoring Saturday with Globki and Dunlop getting only a single assist each. Poulin added after the game, "We got a lot of guys involved in the scoring, the power play was terrific and we played with poise and patience at the end."

Vince Bellissimo, Pat Dwyer, and Andy Townsend all had goals in the third period to pull the Broncos within two goals at 7-5, but Notre Dame's Yan Stastny scored an empty net goal to put the game and the Broncos away for the night. The Broncos had a few rays of light with ten different players in on the scoring Saturday, and Gagnon playing his best game in terms of scoring goals on Friday. Although the offense for WMU played good games, the defense didn't step up when needed. The Broncos were simply unable to stop the physical attack, and very offensively active defensemen of the Irish.

Next weekend Western Michigan will travel to Orono, Maine to take on the Black Bears. Jim Culhane's club went 1-0-1 last year against Maine in games played at Lawson Ice Arena. The Broncos will play in the 5,587 seat Alfond Arena in an effort to repeat last year's success against this perennial hockey powerhouse. The games are Saturday October 26 at 7:00pm and Sunday October 27 at 5:00pm.

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