By Bob Miller/Western Michigan Beat Writer
Western Michigan's weekend split with Alaska cost them the CCHA top spot, but the Broncos are right on Ferris State's doorstep only two points behind the Bulldogs.
Despite the tough season Alaska has encountered, the Nanooks gave Western Michigan all they could handle over the weekend.
Shane Berschbach and Greg Squires staked the Broncos to a 2-0 first period lead on Friday night, but Nanook netminder Scott Greenham stoned Western Michigan the remainder of the game to keep the contest tight all the way to the end.
Colton Beck's midway through the second period was the only offense Alaska could muster against Bronco goaltender Frank Slubowski.
“Tonight was the type of hockey game I expected it to be,” said Western Michigan coach Andy Murray. “We played Alaska-Fairbanks three times and every game has been a battle. They're strong physically, they've got some really good players, some of the top scorers in our league, a good goaltender, and a solid defense, so it made for a solid game.
“We thought we had a good first period, they were really good in the second, and I thought we made some really good adjustments, and the players made some adjustments themselves, in terms of being stronger on the puck and making smarter, simpler plays in the third period, so I thought it was a solid win.”
Greenham was the difference in Saturday night's rematch, making 38 saves and holding Western Michigan off the scoreboard until Mike Leone spoiled Alaska's shutout bid with only 25 seconds remaining in the game. Leone's goal was too little, too late, for the Broncos. Alaska had built a 4-0 lead before the late Western Michigan goal for a 4-1 win.
Badly-slumping Ohio State visits Lawson Arena this coming weekend as Western Michigan renews their pursuit of Ferris State for the CCHA top spot.