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December 8, 2012
The Western Michigan Broncos probably deserve their own "Keep Calm" shirts following their 2-1 victory over rivals Ferris State. The win gave the Broncos their first 5 game winning streak in the regular season since February 9th-23rd in 2007, and moved them up into 3rd place in the CCHA standings
Down 1-0 in the 3rd period, the Broncos were getting hammered by the Bulldog players. Yet after each hit, and each CJ Motte save, WMU shook it off and keep going. Eventually, Scott Czarnowczan and Garrett Thompson were called for clipping and interference respectively, and the Bronco power-play carried the team the rest of the way.
The first period featured more strong, fast, back-and-forth play between the two teams. Despite getting 2 power-plays, the Broncos were unable to come away with any goals. The 2nd period was more of the same, except the Bulldogs were able to pressure every puck, including on their penalty kills.
As a Thompson holding penalty midway through the 2nd period was expiring, the Bulldogs pressured a puck that was exiting the FSU zone. Dan DeKeyser couldn't control the puck and it sailed past him right into the waiting stick of Thompson. Garrett would score on the ensuing breakaway to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead and a lot of momentum for the next 20 minutes.
That's when the Ferris State strength came to play
Throughout the time when the Bulldogs had the lead, they would produce hit after hit on the Broncos, some more borderline penalties than others. With the crowd starting to get unraveled, the Czarnowczan clipping call occurred with 4:38 to go.
On their first power-play opportunity of the 3rd period, the Broncos were able to strike. In a reversal of the power-play goal from last night, Dane Walters found Chase Balisy on a cross-ice pass, and Balisy drilled it past Motte for the tying goal.
Chase was all smiles about the goal.
"I saw we had a 3-on-2 there. I was screaming for the puck there and Dane found me right on my tape and I put it upstairs."
Just 20 seconds after the Balisy goal, Thompson's interference call occurred, giving the Broncos another chance on the power-play, this time to take a late lead.
As Mike Leone carried the puck into the zone, he drove deep down the boards and threw a puck on net, looking to possibly create a rebound opportunity. Instead, the puck snuck between Motte and the post and into the net to give the Broncos a 2-1 lead with just 2:14 to play.
"Garrett (Haar) made a great play and I went straight to the middle," said Leone. "We've been talking all week about taking pucks wide and getting pucks on the net. (The shot) took a good bounce and went in I guess."
Ferris State attempted to get the game-tying goal after WMU Head Coach Andy Murray called a timeout with 1:08 to play. However, Trevor Elias carried a puck to the FSU corner and held it there against 5 Bulldog players. When the whistle was blown for a dead-puck, 30 seconds had expired, and Ferris State Head Coach Bob Daniels had to call a timeout to re-gather his troops.
The Bulldogs were unable to get a shot, as Elias missed an empty net with seconds remaining. The final buzzer rang shortly after securing the 2-1 victory.
Bronco captain Luke Witkowski praised Elias for his play, noting that it is not out of the ordinary to see that type of scrappy play from the senior.
"Trevor's a pitbull. He doesn't give up and he keeps going and he's got a smile on his face the whole time."
Coach Murray was proud of his team for battling back to secure the win.
"That's an exciting way to win. Ferris State made some adjustments and came at us hard tonight and we found a way to win the hockey game."
The Broncos held the Bulldogs without a shot on net in the final 10 minutes of the game, and really stepped up their forechecking presence in that same time period. Western Michigan also has not lost to Ferris State since the first game of the 2011 CCHA Quarterfinals, registering an impressive 7-0-1-1 record against a team that won the CCHA Regular Season Championship last season and finished Runners-Up in the nation.
The Broncos face Michigan, who was off this weekend with a bye, next weekend at Yost Ice Arena. Game times are set for 7:35 p.m.
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