Ferris State Preview

The Western Michigan University hockey team (13-14-1 overall, 11-9-0 CCHA, 5th-tied) takes on Central Collegiate Hockey Association front-runner Ferris State (21-8-1 overall, 16-5-1 CCHA, 1st) this weekend (Feb. 15-16) in a home-and-home series. Faceoff is 7:05 p.m. Saturday from Ewigleben Arena (2,493) in Big Rapids. Sunday's matinee begins at 4:05 p.m. in Lawson Arena (3,667), Kalamazoo.

SERIES HISTORY

WMU split earlier this season against Ferris State after taking all three games during the 2001-02 season. The series has proven to be high scoring, with the teams combining for 8.3 goals over the last six games.

All-TIME: WMU leads, 58-29-6
@ FSU: WMU leads, 22-17-3
@ WMU: WMU leads, 32-11-3

THIS YEAR'S SERIES

As cluster opponents, Ferris State and Western Michigan are meeting four times this season. The schools split a home-and-home series on Nov. 15-16. The Bulldogs recorded a 6-3 win in Big Rapids behind Phil Lewandowski's three-point effort (2-1) in the series opener. The following evening, WMU produced a 4-1 win at Lawson, which was highlighted by goaltender Mike Mantua's goal.

WMU'S LAST FIVE

Feb. 8, 2003 — OSU 3, WMU 2
Western Michigan tied the contest with 2:35 remaining in the third on Vince Bellissimo's goal. OSU responded 14 seconds later when Miguel Lafleche slipped into WMU's end and scored on a backhander. WMU was outshot, 47-22, as G Mike Mantua recorded a career-high 44 saves.

Feb. 7, 2003 — OSU 3, WMU 2 OT
Ohio State scored twice in a span of 77 seconds late in the game to pull out a 3-2 overtime victory at the Value City Arena. The Buckeyes forced overtime when Rod Pelley scored with 46 seconds left in regulation after OSU pulled its goaltender for an extra attacker. R.J. Umberger then provided the game-winning goal 31 seconds into overtime.

Jan. 25, 2003 — WMU 6, UAF 2
WMU completed a weekend sweep of UAF with a 6-2 win. Six Broncos scored goals and G Scott Foster made 31 saves, holding the Nanooks scoreless over the last two periods. D Dave Cousineau earned Perani Cup No. 1 Star of the Game honors with three points (1-2).

Jan. 24, 2003 — WMU 6, UAF 4
Western Michigan rallied from a 4-1 deficit to post a 6-4 win at Alaska Fairbanks. The Nanooks struck four times in the first period, which included a natural hat trick from Tom Herman. WMU went on to score five unanswered goals, with Vince Bellissimo and Jeremy Cheyne adding two markers a piece. Cheyne finished with four points (2-2) on the night.

Jan. 18, 2003 — WMU 4, Miami 1
WMU completed a weekend sweep versus Miami, producing a 4-1 win. Dana Lattery notched a hat trick to lead the Broncos, who held the RedHawks to 0-for-9 on the power play. WMU prevailed despite being outshot, 27-16.

SCOUTING FERRIS STATE

Picked ninth in the CCHA preseason polls, Ferris State won its first seven games in league play and hasn't relinquished the top spot in the standings this year. With a month left in the season, FSU is gunning for its first CCHA regular season crown. The Bulldogs have done it with offense this season, generating a CCHA-best 4.53 goals per game with three players ranked among the league's top five scorers. Hobey Baker candidate Chris Kunitz leads the circuit in goals (26), assists (31) and points (57) with a 15-point cushion over teammate Jeff Legue (20-22-42) in the overall scoring race. Sophomore Derek Nesbitt stands fifth in CCHA scoring with 34 points. Second-year G Mike Brown ranks third among league netminders with a 2.43 goals-against average and owns the second-best saves percentage at .918. He has been named CCHA Defensive Player of the Week five times this season. Head Coach Bob Daniels brings an 11-year record of 170-205-33 into this weekend's series.

HITTING THE HOME STRETCH

With four weeks left in the CCHA schedule, the Broncos hold a tenuous one-point edge in the battle for home playoff ice. WMU and Miami are tied for fifth in the league standings, with Northern Michigan a point behind in seventh. The top six teams will host best-of-three games series slated for March 14-16. The Broncos next six games are against cluster opponents (FSU, BGSU, ND) followed by an encounter with Michigan State to close the season.

TOUGH COMPETITION

The Broncos' 30th anniversary season has been one of the most challenging in program history. This weekend's action will mark the 15th and 16th games against a nationally-ranked opponent this season. Thus far, the Broncos are 4-9-1 versus top-15 squads, with all four victories occurring at Lawson Arena. WMU's ranked opponents have included: #4/5 Colorado College, #7 Cornell, #8 Michigan, #9/10 Maine, #10 Ohio State, #12 Ferris State and #14 Miami.

LATTERY LIGHTING IT UP

Captain Dana Lattery is displaying a scoring touch that made him a 64-goal scorer in juniors. Lattery has goals in three straight contests, taking over the team lead with 16 markers in 22 games. Last year, he paced the Broncos with 19 goals. Lattery ranked 14th nationally last week in goals per game and currently stands eighth in the CCHA despite missing six games to injury.

QUOTING CULHANE ON FERRIS STATE:

"Coach (Bob) Daniels has done a great job with that team. They're very skilled offensively with the likes of Chris Kunitz and Jeff Legue in the lineup and they have good team speed. They also have outstanding goaltending in Mike Brown and a solid group of defensemen."

BRONCO NOTEBOOK

Western Michigan continues to play well defensively, having limited opponents to an average 2.57 goals over seven games. WMU had previously allowed 4.00 goals per game prior to its seven-game stretch … WMU's trip to Ohio State marked the first time in six series, dating to Nov. 8-9, that the Broncos did not earn a point during weekend league play … the Brown & Gold were 4-1 in one-goal games prior to dropping a pair of one-goal decisions at OSU … the Broncos were outshot, 76-39, in the OSU series as junior G Mike Mantua recorded a career-high 44 saves in the finale … Mantua and freshman teammate Scott Foster sport identical 3.61 goals-against averages … Dana Lattery's 46 career goals are second only to Jeff Campbell's 49 among active Broncos … Campbell appeared in his 100th career game Saturday, joining other century club members in Dave Cousineau (136), Brent Rumble (129), Ben Gagnon (118) and Andy Townsend (117) … freshman Vince Bellissimo continues to carry a hot scoring hand, registering eight goals in his last seven games … Jim Culhane's club has made its last overnight trip of the season. the Broncos' four remaining series are of the home-and-home variety … WMU's Feb. 28 home contest versus Notre Dame will be carried live on FOX Sports Net Detroit. WMU has appeared on regional television six times this year: (10/19 vs. ND, WHME-TV; 10/27 @ Maine, WABI-TV; 11/8-9 @ NMU, Charter Communications; 2/7-8 @ OSU, ONN).

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