Broncos Gain Needed Sweep

A brilliant night in net seals up a home conference sweep for the Western Michigan University hockey team (11-12-1, 9-7-0). Sophomore goalie Mike Mantua (8-8-0) turned aside 26 RedHawk shots and junior captain Dana Lattery added a hat trick in route to a big 4-1 Central Collegiate Hockey Association victory over No. 14 Miami University (14-10-2, 8-8-2).

"Mike (Mantua) was absolutely the difference in the game. Until we can get things shored up with being undisciplined, he's going to have to play that way," Mantua said.

MU's penalty killing plowed through opponents until this weekend scoring on 25.7 % of its chances but Mantua and the Bronco penalty killers kept the special teams at bay, allowing only five shots on nine opportunities. WMU held the MU attack to just one goal on 15 attempts over the weekend but giving up that many attempts will eventually cost the Broncos, according to Culhane.

"It's going to cost us home ice for the playoffs and they're going to have no one to blame but themselves," Culhane said.

Offensively, the Broncos took advantage of the few chances they received netting four goals on 16 shots including three from Lattery, giving the winger the team lead with 13 tallies. It was his second career hat trick with the first occurring last year at the Mariucci Classic on Dec. 29 against Ferris State University.

Freshmen Vince Bellissimo and junior Jeff Campbell continue to pour points on the board, each helping on two goals. Bellissimo notched eight points in the last five games, while Campbell clips right along with five points in the last four contests.

The three wins in the last four games, coming just prior to the longest road trip of the season as three of the next five straight away games are against ranked teams.

"As we all know we're not road warriors," Lattery said. "The next five games will determine between home ice and no home ice."

WMU has yet to win a road conference game since the opening weekend against Bowling Green State University on Oct. 11 and sit at 1-8-1.

Lattery initiated the scoring 1:31 into the first when he took a full wind-up from the top of the right circle and blasted the shot past senior goaltender David Burleigh on the first shot of the game. Sophomore Jeremy Cheyne and Bellissimo picked up the helpers. Cheyne's assist pulls him into a second place tie with senior Dave Cousineau, each with 10.

MU responded 54 seconds later, managing to squirt the puck through a ton of traffic in front of the net and past Mantua, tying the game at one. The RedHawks nearly banged the go-ahead power play score home in the waning seconds of the period, but sophomore Mat Ponto dove across the goalmouth, saving a sure goal and keeping the game even heading into the intermission.

The early portion of the second period belonged to the RedHawks, but they were unable to put any of the 17-second period shots past Mantua and the Broncos made them pay.

Sophomore Pat Dwyer knocked in his fifth goal of the season on a shorthanded rebound off Burleigh. MU's ill-timed line change allowed Ponto to hold the puck in pass deep into the zone and give the forwards a chance to score. The shorthanded mark was the seventh of the year, which leads the CCHA.

Four minutes later, Lattery added some insurance by tapping in his second of the night off his own rebound. Burleigh attempted to cover up the wrister but a charging Lattery took the loose puck away and wrapped it around a helpless Burleigh.

Despite taking the 3-1 lead into the third, MU held the shot advantage 22-14.

In the third, no shots went on the board until four minutes into the final stanza. Three minutes later Lattery would redirect a Cousineau blueline-blast to complete the hat trick and the scoring at 7:08 of the third.

WMU will now face an early week of practice before heading out on Wednesday for the first two games of a five game road trip, starting out against the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. The Broncos return to Lawson Ice Arena at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16 versus No. 10 FSU.

BRONCO NOTES: The contest marked the ninth straight start for Mike MantuaPaul Davies returned to action for the first time since breaking his wrist and saw solid playing time…Mat Ponto extends his point streak to two games…The win makes six straight home conference victories for the Brown and Gold…Mantua finished with 42 saves on 45 shots (.933%).

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