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Monday, March 14, 2011

Broncos top Bulldogs, off to "The Joe"

By Karl Henkel/Western Michigan Beat Writer

The Western Michigan Broncos reached yet another milestone in their magical season, this time with a thrilling overtime goal in an elimination game and earned a spot in the CCHA semifinals for the first time in 17 years.

Max Campbell’s overtime tally propelled Western Michigan to a 5-4 victory Sunday over Ferris State in the final of a best-of-three series in Kalamazoo.

“Unbelievable. I’m the happiest person alive right now,” said WMU goaltender Jerry Kuhn, who made 29 saves, including six in overtime. “I get to go home and play in front of 18,000 fans. It’s a dream come true.”

WMU now preps for a battle with Michigan Friday night at Joe Louis Arena. The Wolverines are coming off a two-game sweep of Bowling Green.

The Broncos blew two three-goal leads in the finale, after Trevor Elias, Shane Berschbach and Matt Tennyson scored to give WMU a 3-0 lead early in the second period. Ferris State quickly erased its deficit with three second-period tallies of its own.

In overtime, the hero was Campbell, who scored his 18th of the season off a feed from Dane Walters at 2:23. He beat Pat Nagle, who made 26 saves.

Nagle previously anchored Ferris State’s 3-1 victory in the opener. He made 31 saves and allowed only a second-period goal to Mike Leone.

Cory Kane and Travis Ouellette (two) scored for the Bulldogs.

Kuhn stopped 26 shots for the Broncos.

In the second game, Western Michigan got revenge with a 3-1 victory of their own.

Berschbach and Danny DeKeyser (power play) both scored in the second period, and Kuhn was nearly flawless, making 30 saves and allowing only a second-period goal to Mike Fillinger.

Elias sealed the victory with an empty-netter.

Nagle stopped 28 shots for the Bulldogs.

The Broncos have less than a week to prepare for the Wolverines on Friday (8 p.m. Fox Sports Detroit). UM swept WMU in Ann Arbor in their only series this season, but Western is eager to get a third crack at Michigan.

“Personally, being here for the first three years, it’s always been a sad goodbye for the seniors,” Campbell said. “To be a part of the winning team, and to be going to the Joe, it’s just surreal. It’s an awesome feeling.”

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