By Tom Morelli/WMU Beat Writer
While much of the spotlight was on the University of Miami and the University of Michigan, the CCHA also featured another intriguing match-up. The storyline to this game between Western Michigan University and Lake Superior State University was the fact that both teams sat at the bottom of the conference standings.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, they drew the short end of the stick this time around.
The first game saw several changes in momentum, as both teams battled back and forth at both ends of the ice. It seemed as if the officials had taken the night off, as both teams combined for only six penalties.
The Lakers’ Chad Nehring broke the scoring silence at 8:40 of the first period by taking a Troy Schwab feed and knocking is past goaltender Riley Gill.
About a minute-and-a-half later, Cam Watson evened things up, as Jeff Pierce and Brian Bicek set-up Watson for his eighth goal of the season.
Lake Superior State regained the lead in the following period, as Steve Olesky took a pass from Will Acton and Jason Blain with five minutes elapsed.
Just before the end of the period, Jeff Pierce notched his seventh goal of the campaign. The power-play marker came while Nathan Perkovich sat in the sin-bin on a roughing call. Patrick Galivan tallied his team-leading 19th assist on the play, and Jeff LoVecchio earned his 10th.
The third period saw another lead change at the 7:10 mark, when the Lakers’ Zac MacVoy banged one home from a Rick Schofield pass.
With less than five minutes to play, freshman forward Max Campbell scored a game-tying goal, with Galivan and LoVecchio helping out on the play.
Sudden death couldn’t declare a winner, thus ending Friday’s game in a 3-3 tie.
Gill finished with 30 saves on the night, while his counterpart Brian Mahoney-Wilson stopped 29.
The second game of the series proved to be a bit more one-sided, with Lake Superior State gaining the upper hand.
Nehring once again gave his team the early lead, notching his fourth goal of the campaign with almost four minutes gone by in the opening period. Helping set-up the score was Dan Eves and Dillin Stonehouse.
After notching an assist the night before, Schwab extended the Lakers’ lead with an unassisted goal in the middle stanza.
MacVoy tallied another goal for Lake Superior State, beating goaltender Jerry Kuhn in the final period of play.
Western Michigan did not go scoreless though, thanks to senior defenseman Nathan Ansell’s goal with less than two minutes to play.
Broncos Head Coach Jim Culhane pulled Kuhn in the final minute of the game, hoping to generate some offense. His plan worked, as LoVecchio scored his eight goal of the season, which ties him with Watson for the team lead. Unfortunately, the goal came with five seconds remaining, and Western Michigan couldn’t force overtime.
Leading the Lakers in their 3-2 win between the pipes was Pat Inglis, who denied 33 shots.
Kuhn stopped 34 shots, most of which came in the opening period.
After taking three of four points this weekend, Lake Superior State improves to 6-15-6 overall, and 4-13-5 in conference play. The Lakers travel to Ann Arbor this Friday and Saturday for a series with the Wolverines.
For the Broncos, their overall record falls to 7-20-3. Despite being in last place in the CCHA standings at 3-17-2, Western Michigan will have an opportunity to better that record with their home-and-home series against Michigan State University this weekend.
The first game will be played in East Lansing, which can be seen at 7:05 p.m. Friday on Comcast Local. Fans can celebrate Hockey Day in Michigan the following night, as the Broncos head back to Kalamazoo for the second game. Puck drop is expected to be at 4:35 p.m., with FSN Detroit providing coverage.