By Bob Miller/Western Michigan Beat Writer
DETROIT - Western Michigan built a three-goal lead after two periods and then held on in the third period to beat Michigan, 3-2 Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena, taking its first CCHA tournament championship since 1986.
WMU captain Ian Slater put the Broncos ahead with a lead they would never surrender with a spinning first-period goal off a rebound from Michigan goaltender Shawn Hunwick.
Dane Walters and Chase Balisy each chipped in a goal during the second period to give Western Michigan a commanding lead after 40 minutes.
Kevin Clare grabbed third-period momentum with a nifty shorthanded effort, culminating with a slick move on eventual tournament MVP, Bronco netminder Frank Slubowski, to pull Michigan within two goals, 3-1.
Luke Moffatt's pinpoint pass to Lee Moffie while Michigan enjoyed a five-minute power play later in the third tightened the contest to 3-2, leading to a furious final few minutes.
Slubowski and the Broncos held off the Michigan onslaught to capture the title.
“It’s tough to talk after something like that,” said Western Michigan coach Andy Murray. “Your emotions. I’m just so happy for our players. This is all about them. It’s all about their commitment. All year they’ve worked extremely hard. I’ve had a lot of hard-working teams as a hockey coach, and I’m an old coach, so there’s been a lot of teams, but I’ve got a real hard-working core here. If you’ve got a good goalie, you’ve got a good chance to be a good coach. That’s the bottom line.”
“It was a night of good bounces, you know, being in the right spot, working hard, using your body to shield off the defender,” added Walters. “We got a couple good bounces and I guess that’s how it goes sometimes.”