College Hockey Scoreboard from CHN

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Broncos take home-and-home from MSU

The Western Michigan Broncos were picked to finish last in the CCHA preseason polls, but lately, especially last weekend, WMU has surprised the critics.

Western Michigan swept No. 6 Michigan State in a home-and-home set that started with a 4-3 win in Kalamazoo Friday night and concluded with a 2-0 shutout last night in East Lansing.

The win last night was WMU's first at Munn Ice Arena since Dec. 11, 1993, which also was a 2-0 shutout. MSU assistant coach Brian Renfrew and WMU assistant coach Chris Brooks were teammates the last time the Broncos defeated Michigan State at Munn. Brooks was a sophomore center and Renfrew was a junior goalie, picking up the shutout victory that night.

Patrick Galivan scored with two-tenths of a second left in the first period Saturday and co-captain Jeff LoVecchio scored the insurance tally 10:57 into the third period.

"It's so difficult to win on the road in this league," Broncos' head coach Jim Culhane said. "(Michigan State's) only lost one game at home all year and it's a difficult place to play. It was a real good effort by our guys."

Freshman Riley Gill (pictured) stopped 19 shots for his fourth shutout this season and already shares second on the all-time list for shutouts in a season with Bill Horn (1985-89) and Jeff Reynaert (1998-2002).

Jeff Lerg made 23 saves for MSU.

"It looks like we're out of gas right now," MSU head coach Rick Comley said. "There wasn't that energy, there wasn't that emotion. Giving up that goal late (in the first period) is a killer, but we just didn't have good energy."

The Broncos, who secured home ice for the first round of the CCHA Tournament with their win on Friday coupled with an Alaska loss, captured the season series, 3-1, marking the first time WMU has ever defeated the Spartans three times in a campaign, as well as two times in a row.

Friday night at Lawson Ice Arena on Senior Night, Gill stopped 26 shots and WMU got goals from co-captain Ryan Mahrle, Galivan, LoVecchio and Brian Bicek.

Justin Abdelkader scored twice for the Spartans and Daniel Vukovic added a single. Lerg kicked out 18 shots in a losing cause.

"First of all, you have to give a lot of credit to Western," Spartans' captain Chris Lawrence said. "They executed their game plan to a "T." They were a better, smarter team than us. Their penalties were ones we drew, while our penalties were mental breakdowns. I think this is the first time all year we are beginning to feel frustrated as a group. My job as a leader is to put the brakes on this thing right now."

Michigan State (18-11-3, 14-9-3 CCHA) play a home-and-home with Bowling Green this weekend starting Friday night in Ohio. The Broncos (16-15-1, 13-12-1 CCHA) are at Lake Superior State for a pair.

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