By Tom Morelli/WMU Beat Writer
Western Michigan University had their first setback of the season, losing on Friday and Saturday to Niagara University in a non-conference series.
In Friday’s game, the Purple Eagles didn’t waste any time from the get-go, scoring 44 seconds into the contest. Down early, the Broncos were faced with another dilemma as forward Jeff Pierce was slapped with a game misconduct seconds after the goal for checking a player from behind.
Freshman Ryan Watson gave Western Michigan a shift in momentum at 1:36 in the period after tying the game up on a short-handed goal, with Matt Clackson providing the assist.
From there on out, the Broncos began to collapse defensively, and succumbed to a power-play and short-handed goal by Matt Caruana in the second and third period, respectively.
Left-winger Brian Bicek helped inch Western Michigan closer, lighting the lamp at 11:25 of the final period.
An insurance goal by Paul Zanette with a minute left in the game sealed the 4-2 win for Niagara University.
In his first collegiate start, freshman goaltender Jerry Kuhn stopped 18 of 22 shots for the Broncos.
Western Michigan experienced a scoring drought through nearly all of Saturday’s game, managing to get on the scoreboard with under a minute left.
After being ejected from the previous game, Pierce gained retribution by sneaking the puck past Purple Eagles’ netminder Juliano Pagliero with only 21 seconds remaining. Forwards Max Campbell and Patrick Galivan were credited with the assist, which came with an extra attacker.
The Broncos however, failed to convert on their two power-play opportunities and were slightly outshot by Niagara University, 27-26.
Junior goaltender Riley Gill made 24 saves in the contest, with 14 of them coming in the second period alone.
The pair of losses drops Western Michigan to a .500 record (2-2-0), as the Broncos return home for their CCHA opener against Bowling Green University on Friday, followed by a trip to the BGSU Arena the following night.