Kalamazoo, MI – If you talk with the SCSU coaching staff they accomplished much this weekend in their NCHC conference road trip to Western Michigan University. Foremost, they nailed down 4 of 6 league points against a pretty darn good team that had been undefeated on their home ice thus far this season. Additionally, the special teams got back on track negating all WMU man-advantage opportunities over the weekend and scoring 3 of 5 times (60%) the Huskies had the advantage. Certainly this was a pretty big accomplishment considering the Broncos entered the weekend scoring four goals per game, converting 24% of the power play opportunities and killing 83.3% of their opponents power plays. Beyond that, the youthful Huskies continued their “growth” process with first-year players constantly placed in key roles in nearly every conceivable game condition. As they approach the midway point of the 2016-17 season, the coaching staff can only be patient and hope the experience these youngsters are gaining early in the season pays off as they complete the second half of the season full of conference games.
No doubt the current edition of the Western Michigan Broncos is an improved model from last season and they’ll win their fair share of games the balance of the season. They have a good mix of young talent and seasoned veterans and a much improved offense from last season. With youngsters like Wade Allison and Matheson Iacopelli, they are always a threat to score and with veterans on the blue line and depth at goaltender their defensive game “ain’t” that bad either. Their team speed is improved and if necessary they can play the physical game which will continue to allow them to win their share of games at Lawson Rink which typically is a tough venue to play in as it is.
It was encouraging to see Zach Driscoll get his first collegiate shut out on Friday and he benefited greatly from some solid play by the SCSU defense that kept the Broncos to the perimeter and quickly transitioned the puck out of harms way. It was also encouraging to see the work ethic of the squad this weekend. The coaching staff was pleased with their effort in both games and in particular how they followed the Saturday game plan of getting the puck deep and paying the price to battle along the back wall for the puck. Going 3 for 4 on the power play on Saturday was a confidence builder and was the key to responding to an early 2-0 deficit in the game.
- Seldom used WMU forward Mike McKee, a 6’6″ 250 pound Detroit Red Wings draft choice had the game-tying goal and an assist on Saturday in just his second game of the season. It turned out to be a brilliant move by the WMU coaching staff.
- Mikey Eyssimont finished the weekend with 2 goals and 3 assists including 2 power play goals to lead the Huskies in scoring vs the Broncos.
- Jacob Benson scored twice on consecutive power plays 1:22 apart from nearly the identical shooting position. Both power play goals were assisted by Jack Ahcan and Mikey Eyssimont.
- The typically boisterous “Lawson Lunatics” were noticeably absent both games this weekend presumably due to WMU playing in the MAC football championship game vs Ohio University at Ford Field in Detroit on Friday.
- Will Borgen had a nice weekend getting a goal and an assist in the series including a tap-in goal Saturday after a nice drive to the net by Patrick Newell.
- First-year Bronco forward Wade Allison was a force all weekend and difficult to control along the boards and around the goal mouth. He reminds greatly of former SCSU power forward Matt Hendricks currently with Edmonton of the NHL. Allison also showed some finesse scoring the lone shoot-out goal on Saturday to give WMU the extra league point.
- SCSU was penalized while in the 3 X 3 overtime session on Saturday. By rule, the advantage for WMU returned to 4 X 3 while the penalty was being served.
- Two Apple Valley, MN products were in goal this weekend. Zach Driscoll played his high school hockey at Eastview High while WMU’s Collin Olson, a 6th round draft choice of the Carolina Hurricanes played his high school hockey at Apple Valley High. Driscoll was in goal both games for SCSU while Olson started Friday’s contest and came into the game in relief of Trevor Gorsuch on Saturday.
The Huskies return to the confines of the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center next weekend with a NCHC conference series with the Omaha Mavericks. The (hopefully) road weary Mavs will be completing three consecutive weekend road trips to Northern Michigan, Wisconsin and St. Cloud. The Mavericks will enter the series one league point behind the Huskies but with two less league games played.
A preview of that series will be posted later in the week. As always, further updates are also posted on the Center Ice View website here