Broncos Host RedHawks

The Western Michigan (9-12-1, 7-7-0 CCHA) Broncos are coming off of a split with the Michigan Wolverines and will host the Miami of Ohio RedHawks (14-8-2, 8-6-2 CCHA) in a pair of home games this weekend. Broncos Illustrated takes a quick look at both WMU and Miami.

In the past weekends series split the Broncos traveled to Ann Arbor on Friday to play in front of almost 7,000 Maize and Blue faithful. Dana Lattery summed up the 10-3 loss as "embarrassing." The Broncos skated away with a 7-0 deficit after just one period, and never had a chance to catch-up. The one bright spot in the game was Jeff Campbell's 2-goal second period that almost ended with a natural hat trick. Both teams ended the game taking frustration penalties that culminated in WMU's Brian Pasko and U of M's Dwight Helminen taking 10-minute misconducts for fighting.

Saturday's game was a complete turnaround for the Broncos who came out to score first with a Jeff Campbell goal. The Bronco lead disappeared with Michael Woodford and Andrew Ebbett scoring second period goals followed by Brandon Rogers scoring an early third period power play goal to pull Michigan into a 3-1 lead. What happened next would turn the tide of the game for good. Vince Bellissimo took a shot from neutral ice that knuckled and made it by U of M goaltender Al Montoya. That goal brought on chants of "Osgood" from the fans in reference to Chris Osgood giving up a similar goal in a Detroit Red Wings playoff game several years ago. Bellissimo scored another goal followed by Dana Lattery netting the game winner to finish off the series split with a 4-3 home victory.

For Miami this weekend saw them take 3 points from Nebraska-Omaha in a Friday 3-0 win and a Saturday 2-2 tie. Netminder David Burleigh made 28 saves for the RedHawks in Friday's game to skate away with the shutout giving him a school record 9 shutouts. Scoring came from far and wide for Miami who had nine players with points and not a single one of them with more than one point. Junior Forward Greg Hogeboom scored the first goal, the game winner, on the power play early in the first period. Todd Grant and Matt Medvecz scored in the second and third periods respectively to give Miami what ended up being insurance goals. This game ended much the same as WMU's Friday game with a pair of players being ejected for fighting.

On Saturday Miami hosted ‘power play night' as 3 of the 4 goals in the game came on the power play. Andy Greene and Greg Hogeboom tallied power play goals for the RedHawks in the first period to give Miami a 2-goal first period lead. In the second period Joe Pereira scored a power play goal to bring Nebraska-Omaha to within one off of a Joel Andresen feed. The third period saw to only even strength goal of the game as Mike Lefley snuck one past Burleigh to tie things up 2-2. The game was a bit undisciplined for the Mavericks who only took 7 penalties but took them for a total of 25 minutes.

For Miami, the RedHawks boast a 4-0-1 record against the Broncos in their last five meetings. Despite the recent lack of success against the RedHawks, WMU holds 44-36-7 all time and 24-16-5 home records against Miami. The Broncos will have to put a hold on Mike Kompon and Greg Hogeboom who have had great success in their college careers against Jim Culhane's club. Kompon and Hogeboom are also third and fifth in the conference respectively this season in terms of scoring. Miami also has the help of senior goaltender David Burleigh (2.48 GAA, .899 SV%) who holds stats that put him near the top of the CCHA's goaltenders. "They are certainly one of the more explosive teams in the league and have solid goaltending with David Burleigh," said Culhane.

The Broncos will once again be without the aid of Paul Davies while he recovers from a broken wrist. Culhane's club will have to step up in much the same fashion that they did when Dana Lattery missed 6 games with an injury. Davies recovery time is still up in the air. One thing is certain, "he won't play this weekend, he still has a cast on his hand," said Culhane. "He'll be evaluated after this weekends play by the doctors."

Aside from the tough loss at Michigan Saturday, the Broncos have gotten solid play from a variety of players including Vince Bellissimo, Jeff Campbell, Brent Walton, Dana Lattery, Pat Dwyer, and Mike Mantua in recent games. If the Broncos continue to work with their strengths they will be one tough team to beat, but the inconsistency of the first half of the season continued to hurt them in the Michigan series. Being mentally prepared for Friday games is one area the team needs to improve on in order to be a serious contender in the last half of the CCHA season.

WMU is just 1-8-0 when the opponent scores first and that is just what Miami is good at making it that much more important for the Broncos to start strong against the RedHawks. The Broncos will try to take advantage of a home crowd that Brent Walton says, "oh, I love them. They're great. It makes it a lot more fun to play." WMU is 8-4-0 at home while Miami is just 3-7-0 on the road scoring just 2.7 goals per game on the road. Western will also have to stop the CCHA's top power play unit by staying out of the penalty box remaining disciplined through out the series.

Both games this weekend, January 17-18 (Friday and Saturday), are at Lawson Ice Arena with 7:05pm face-offs. The games can be heard on the Bronco Hockey Radio Network led by COOL101 WQXC (100.9fm) and on Internet broadcast at www.wmubroncos.com. Tickets are available from the Bronco Ticket Office, at 1-888-4-WMU-TIX, and online at www.wmubroncos.com.

RECRUITING NOTES: Jason Moul who plays for the Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) and is a native of Livonia, MI is reported to have verbally committed to Western Michigan for a walk-on spot on the 2003-04-hockey team. Jason is a left-handed center who stands at 5' 8" and 170lbs. He will be the oldest recruit in the class turning 20 this upcoming March 7. Last season Jason played in 61 games scoring 15 goals, 36 assists, for 51 points, and also went to the penalty box for a modest 36 minutes for the Stampede.

In the current season Moul has tallied 16 Goals and 21 Assists for 37 Points in 34 games. The Sioux Falls captain has a +7 Plus/Minus and 55 penalty minutes and has been valuable on the man advantage with 7 Power Play Goals. Moul is the second player WMU has had a commitment from out of the USHL this season joining Otsego, MI native and Des Moines Buccaneer defender Kyle Bushee.

Jason set the Stampede record for the longest assist streak at 14 games during the 2001-02 season and ranks seventh on the team's all-time scoring list with 90 points. "Jason is a tremendous asset to the Stampede organization," said Stampede Head Coach Tony Gasparini in a recent press release. "As our captain he leads this team by example with his hard work and dedication to our goals both on and off the ice. Western Michigan is getting a young man that will give their program 100-percent effort in everything they ask of him."

Although WMU is not allowed to talk about specific recruits until they have signed a letter of intent, Broncos Illustrated was able to confirm with Jim Culhane that they have had a commitment from a forward. With the departure of Paul Glynn to the Division III River Falls team "we needed to replace another guy at the forward position," said Culhane. "That's where that one falls in."

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