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January 31, 2013

WMU vs Ferris State Hockey Preview

This weekend, the Western Michigan Broncos and Ferris State Bulldogs will battle for the last time against each other as CCHA foes. The "Battle of US-131" will be sparingly continued as WMU heads to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference next season while Ferris heads to the WCHA. Nevertheless, these two teams look to put on one last great show at Ewigleben Arena as CCHA rivals.

When these two teams met back in December, the Broncos swept a pair of games by scores of 4-2 and 2-1 in what was part of their 6 game win streak. The first game saw the Broncos never trail as Dane Walters netted 2 power-play goals including the game winner. The second game saw the Broncos come from behind late in the 3rd period with 2 power-play goals. Mike Leone scored the game-winner, his 2nd goal of the weekend, and 2nd goal of the season at that point.

The trio of Kyle Bonis (13-7-20), Garrett Thompson (9-11-20), and Travis Ouellette (8-11-19) lead the Bulldogs in points with 30 of their 76 goals. Junior forward Cory Kane (7-7-14) also is a large contributor as the only other player with more than 5 goals. On defense, sophomore Jason Binkley (2-14-16) leads the Bulldogs in assists. Scott Czarnowczan and Connor Schmidt lead help lead the defense in +/- with a +5 and +3 respectively.

As far as goaltending goes, C.J. Motte was announced today as the CCHA Goalie of the Month for January after posting a 5-1-0 record with a 1.34 GAA and .949 save percentage in the month. His overall 2.12 GAA and .929 save percentage are equally impressive as one of the top goalies in the nation. Should he be needed, backup Charles Williams is available. However, Williams is 1-1-0 in his 2 starts this season including the recent 5-2 loss to Notre Dame last weekend. He has a 3.33 GAA and a .873 save percentage.

Prediction: Both teams play very similar styles of play: hard, fast, intense hockey. Both have great goaltenders and it is mostly the Bronco defense vs the Bulldog offense. That said, the key should be if the Bronco offense can get anything going on the smaller rink in Big Rapids. The Bulldogs are very good at home, boasting a 7-3-2 record, but WMU won both road games last season. Still, Ferris is really hot right now, and could possibly earn a sweep if the Bronco offense isn't clicking. FSU 3-1, WMU 3-2

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