Last Saturday's contest between the Western Michigan Broncos and the Niagara Purple Eagles started with a Niagara goal as Sean Bentivoglio beat Broncos' goalie Daniel Bellissimo just ten seconds into the game. Bentivoglio struck again before the end of the period, and the Broncos were fighting for survival in the quest for their first victory of the season.
Brent Walton answered the call in the second period. His power-play goal, assisted by captain Mike Erickson and Paul Szczechura, put the Broncos within striking distance. Midway through the period, defenseman Ryan Mahrle (pictured) got some help from Matt Clackson and Sean Weaver, and scored to put the Broncos on even ground with the Purple Eagles. But less than a minute later, Reid Yantzi went to the box and Niagara capitalized on the situation. Bentivoglio set up Les Reaney for the Purple Eagles' go-ahead goal.
"To start the third period, the shift our top line had got us going and we were running through our four lines," said NU head coach Dave Burkholder. "That set the tone for the third period. Finally our power play had some good puck moevement. That was a huge goal that Les tipped in. When we played a single game like we did, that’s a big test and we responded. That’s two games in a row that we played really well in the third."
Bellissimo finished with 33 saves.
"I’m pleased with our effort, but disappointed with the outcome," reflected Western coach Jim Culhane.
Western Michigan will return home tomorrow to face fourth-ranked Ohio State in Western's first CCHA faceoff of the season.
"We’re looking forward to getting into league play." Culhane said. "Hosting the Buckeyes will be a tremendous challenge for our young team. They’re coming in as one of the nation’s top-ranked programs. We need the seventh man to support us this weekend at Lawson— a strong contingent of students and community support.”
Photo courtesy of WMU