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Monday, January 17, 2011

Broncos gain win, SOL against OSU

By Karl Henkel/Western Michigan Beat Writer

No. 18 Western Michigan continued its tear against Ohio State over the weekend, posting a 4-2 victory over the Buckeyes in the opener before it fell in a shootout following a 2-2 tie in the finale Saturday night in Kalamazoo.

“This is a hard league for sure, and becoming a really good hockey team is a hard thing,” WMU coach Jeff Blashill said. “The steps to becoming good are easier than the steps to becoming really good. Execution can always get better. We need to pay attention to detail on every single play, because that can have an effect on outcome.”

In the first game, the Broncos scored goals early in the first and second periods and jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Ian Slater and Shane Berschbach both scored even-strength goals. OSU’s Alex Szczechura momentarily broke Western Michigan’s momentum with a power-play marker, but the Broncos responded 1:38 later when Chase Balisy scored his sixth of the season.

Ohio State’s John Albert made things interesting with a third-period shorthanded goal that brought the Buckeyes within 3-2, but Balisy finished off the Western Michigan victory, which also snapped OSU’s six-game winning streak, with an empty-net goal in the waning moments.

Cal Heeter stopped 24 shots for OSU; Jerry Kuhn turned aside 32 for WMU.

In the second game, Western Michigan once again scored first as Max Campbell notched his 12th goal of the season near the end of the opening period. But with a mere two seconds before intermission, Ohio State’s Cory Schneider evened the score with an unassisted tally, his second of the year.

Balisy scored his third in two nights early in the second, but the Buckeyes responded once again when Jeff McNeil scored midway through the third.

Ohio State won the shootout, 2-1.

A crowd of more than 4,000 saw the back end of the weekend series after nearly 3,700 attended the opener.

“It was a great crowd, it certainly energizes our guys,” Blashill said. “I’ve said it before, it’s one of the best places in the country; it’s certainly as good as any. Unfortunately we couldn’t get past that 1-0 mark and they scored the late one.”

Heeter stopped 31 shots for the Buckeyes and Kuhn 32 for the Broncos (12-6-6, 6-5-5-3 CCHA).

Western Michigan goes on the road this weekend to face Lake Superior State. Both games start at 7:05 p.m.

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