Roundup: Western Michigan Bounces Back
North Dakota, St. Cloud State Headed Towards Deciding Showdown
CHN Staff Report
Western Michigan scored four goals in the third period to erase a two-goal deficit and beat Nebraska-Omaha, 5-3. It was a turnaround from the previous night, where WMU had a poor third period in a loss, after which coach Andy Murray called out his team.
“I thought there was a real sense of purpose in the game tonight," Murray said. "We went into the game between the second and third period and you could sense the energy that was in there, they were a determined group. We were obviously disappointed in our performance last night and Nebraska-Omaha plays fast and really hard and I like their effort. They made a little tactical adjustment in the third period there and were able to open it up for a couple chances."
The win snaps a three-game winless streak and moves WMU back into fourth place in the NCHC.
“We were on a bit of a win-less streak but we play hard and compete and we talked about it," Murray said. "I thought Chase (Balisy) made a very important point to our team and that is that we do not lose in Lawson. That has been a standard that we have set in the last three years and for us to lose like we did last night and those two games against Minnesota-Duluth was unacceptable to our players and the energy in the building tonight was electric. Being a part of this program and Bronco hockey here at Western is really special.”
The Broncos fed off the energy of the crowd, as is often the case at home.
“Coach came in the locker room and said, 'This is our period and if we are going to do anything it has to be now,'" sophomore Forward Nolan Laporte said. "A couple of guys stepped up, some guys who aren’t regularly out there and threw some big hits for us and got us going and sure enough things turned around for us. ... There is energy on the bench and after someone makes a big hit or has a good play everyone on the bench is up and moving around telling them good job. It definitely gets the guys going and a big goal helps out.”
Freshman Alex Ross scored with 6:06 left in regulation to lift Colorado College to a 3-1 win over Denver, giving the Tigers a sweep of the weekend and a victory in this year's Gold Pan Series. It hasn't been the best year for CC, but a capacity crowd of 7,641 at World Arena saw the Tigers win, stretching their modest unbeaten streak to four.
"I was kinda hovering around the crease, and it popped out to me," Roos said. "I knew there were three or four guys on the ice in front of the net, and the goalie was gonna try to throw a glove up and catch it, but I just threw it upstairs and had a feeling he might not be there, and sure enough, it went in. That was a really good feeling."
With the losses, Denver slipped back to fifth in the NCHC.
"(Goalie) Sam (Brittain) kept us in it early in the first,” DU head coach Jim Montgomery said. “I thought at about seven minutes, we started to apply some pressure and had some great shifts, but unfortunately we weren’t able to sustain it. I also think CC was the better team over the entire game and if it wasn’t for Sam we would have been behind earlier. It was a big weekend, we could have made some big strides in the NCHC, but it didn’t work out that way for us.”
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North Dakota is now 14-2-1 since a team meeting following a loss to St. Lawrence on Nov. 29. North Dakota finished off another weekend sweep, getting two goals from defenseman Paul LaDue in a 6-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth.
Regarding that team meeting in November, forward Rocco Grimaldi said, "We just got honest with each other and said, This isn’t good enough, this isn’t how we play here."
The win kept North Dakota in a first-place tie with St. Cloud State. The Huskies defeated Miami, 3-0, to split the weekend series. Those two teams meet each other in the final regular-season weekend, in St. Cloud.
“It was the best defensive effort of the season, from the top to the bottom of the lineup, for us,” SCSU coach Bob Motzko told the St. Cloud Times. “They had very limited chances."
St. Cloud forward Nic Dowd told The Times, about next week's showdown with North Dakota: “We understand what’s at stake. It’s going to be in our barn with a big weekend in the conference standings on the line.”
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Wisconsin, which has had issues with the power play lately, recorded a pair of man-advantage goals in a 2-0 shutout win over Michigan State at Kohl Center. The win was the 250th for head coach Mike Eaves, and it came in front of a sellout crowd of 15,359.
Joseph LaBate scored in the first period and Michael Mersch added one in the second.
“I think that as good as Joel (Rumpel) was tonight, he looked so calm doing it. He was big back there," Eaves said. "Obviously the next stat that jumps out is that the power play was productive. It produced goals on a night that were hard to come by. And we get four for the weekend, which we haven’t done in quite a while, so that’s a positive.”
Despite moving up to wihtin a point of first-place Minnesota and to No. 6 in the Pairwise, Eaves said his team can still play better.
“I think we have more," he said. "I think there are some adjustments we could make in the (forward) lines to see if we have more there. In our bye week we’re going to tinker with them a little bit. We talked about what we need to do with this power play to be a contributor and help this team get W’s and they did that this weekend. So that’s probably the biggest growth of this group and it just needs to continue.”
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Michigan rallied from Friday's overtime loss to take care of Penn State, 5-2.
Freshman forward Alex Kile and junior forward Phil Di Giuseppe supplied two goals apiece, and sophomore goaltender Steve Racine stopped 18 of 20 shots in his first appearance at home since Oct. 10 vs. Boston College.
On the down side, forward Mac Bennett had x-rays for an upper body injury, according to coach Red Berenson. His status is still uncertain going forward.