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Sunday, February 27, 2005

Warriors Back in the Win Column

by Matt Mackinder courtesy of

PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Wayne State ended an 0-6-1 skid with a convincing 5-1 win over Air Force Saturday afternoon and in the process took two more points in the College Hockey America standings.

And the Warriors made it look easy.

Coming off a tough week of practice after an idle weekend, the Warriors (13-15-3, 6-8-3 CHA) beat the Falcons in every facet of the game, especially offensively, in front of 823 at the Compuware Sports Arena.

Jason Bloomingburg scored twice to give him 18 goals on the season, tying WSU's single-season mark set by Dusty Kingston in the 2000-2001 season. But after the game, Bloomingburg deflected the attention to everyone but himself.

"We didn't have any breakdowns today," said Bloomingburg, from nearby Canton, Mich. "We stuck exactly to our game plan and executed everything to a 'T.' We just did it all."

Adam Krug got WSU on the board at 9:38 of the first period with a shorthanded marker. Taylor Donohoe got the puck at his own blue line and dished off to Stavros Paskaris, who found a hole in the Air Force defense. Krug gathered the pass, brushed off a defenseman and beat goalie Ian Harper with a slap shot from just above the left circle.

With the assist, Paskaris snapped a six-game pointless drought that also coincided with Wayne State's aforementioned skid.

Paskaris then scored 2:45 into the second period on a WSU power play. Donohoe kept in a clearing attempt and found Paskaris between the circles. Paskaris deked the Air Force defender and slid a weak shot on Harper that squirted back onto Paskaris' stick who went five-hole.

"Donnie made a chest trap with the puck," explained Paskaris. "He saw me and I just made one fake and got a shot on net."

Wayne State made it 3-0 as Mike Forgie scored off a Mark Bradshaw rebound. Bradshaw put the initial shot on Harper, but another loose puck came out and Forgie made the easy tap at 8:59.

"We came out strong and out-worked them," said Paskaris. "Two points in this league are huge and hopefully with this win we can keep rolling."

Bloomingburg's first of the game came at 2:21 of the third period. Tylor Michel put a pass just at the top of the crease that Bloomingburg re-directed past Harper.

Brandon Merkosky ruined Matt Kelly's shutout bid at 5:43 on an Air Force 5-on-3 man-advantage.

But exactly four minutes later, Bloomingburg restored the four-goal cushion with a power-play goal. Parked to the right of Harper, Paskaris fed Bloomingburg, whose one-timer beat Harper cleanly.

"We changed our lines around and put Bloomer back with Krug and Michel like we had at the beginning of the season," said WSU head coach Bill Wilkinson. "They're back to having that original chemistry. But even though he's got 18 goals, I don't think Bloomer's reached his full potential. Right now, he's a one-dimensional player and he knows he has to work on other things. There is always room for adjustment."

"I've always been a goal scorer at every level I've played," said Bloomingburg. "I just get to the net and shoot. No shot is ever a bad shot."

Donohoe put an exclamation mark on his strong game with a huge open-ice hit on Air Force captain Matt Bader. Donohoe read the play and drilled Bader, who tried to get up, but found only wobbly legs and a limited navigational system.

"I'm not a big point guy," admitted Donohoe. "And I don't go looking for hits. But if the opportunity ever presents itself, I'll take it. My role here is to play a defensive game and keep the puck out of the zone. If I put up points or give a big hit, that's all just a bonus. With that hit, I had said to (defense partner Dan) Iliakis that they had been coming up the middle all game and that's what happened."

Kelly finished with 27 saves while Harper stopped 31 for the Falcons (13-16-2, 5-12-0 CHA).

The two teams meet again Sunday at 2 p.m.

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