Broncos Grind Out a 2-1 Win for a Weekend Sweep of SCSU

Alex Aslanidis (Photo courtesy Mark Kuhlmann)

Kalamazoo, MI –  Ty Glover is a pretty confident first-year player for the Western Michigan Broncos. Without hesitation, on Tuesday,  he predicted the then-last place Broncos would sweep the first-place Huskies this weekend. Who’s to argue? It wasn’t fancy but the Broncos capitalized on two unusual goals and then held on for the final 30 minutes as they ground out a 2-1 win at Lawson Arena on Saturday, January 16th.

This was the fourth straight win over the Huskies at Lawson Arena and third out of four games vs the #4-ranked Huskies this season as they most certainly knocked the Huskies out of first place in the conference standings. In the process, the Broncos catapulted themselves from eighth place to a tie for fourth place with the Omaha Mavericks.

The Broncos who were in a quandary a month ago after starting goaltender Brandon Bussi was injured and deemed out for the season may have found themselves a goaltender in first-year, Alex Aslanidis who is undefeated in four straight starts. Aslanidis, who started both games this weekend stopped 49 of 52 shots and suddenly has the WMU coaching staff a little more secure about their goaltending.

For the Huskies, it was a better effort than Friday and midway into the contest finally appeared to have worn the Broncos down enough to have the ice slanted in their favor for most of the last 30 minutes. Opportunities missed on two lone breaks in the second period and a Hentges shot off the right post with five minutes remaining in the contest most certainly would have changed the course of the game.

Period One 
Much like Friday’s game, the Broncos capitalized early and although not confirmed, may have scored on their first shot of the game for the second consecutive night. Less than two minutes into the game, Paul Washe fell on top of Hrenak from behind knocking him to the ice. As he was scrambling to gain position Cole Gallant fired a shot off his shoulder for an apparent goal. After a review, it was apparently ruled that Washe was pushed into Hrenak by an SCSU defender ruling it a goal. Gallant was awarded the goal at 1:26 for the 1-0 WMU lead.

The Broncos who appeared to be intent on attacking the goal whether it meant running into Hrenak or not were penalized at 6:45 for goaltender interference after Josh Passolt ran into Hrenak. The Huskies power play was effective in maintaining control of the puck in the Broncos zone for nearly the full two minutes but the Broncos defended well and between, block shots, saves and shots sent wide they couldn’t take advantage.

The Broncos nearly extended their lead to two goals with 5:38 remaining in the period but a Jason Polin shot from within the slot went wide. In a very physical first period, the Huskies outshot the Broncos 9-6 but trailed by a 1-0 score.

Period Two
It was obvious the Huskies intended to engage more physically in period two when Ondrej Trejbal steamrolled Ty Glover at the SCSU blue line about four minutes into the period. But they shot themselves in the foot with an early odd-man rush where they made one too many passes and never got a shot off.

Another unusual goal 5:20 into the period suddenly had the Broncos in control with a two-goal lead. On a heads up play, defenseman, Michael Joyaux lofted the puck down ice from his blue line that was retrieved by a streaking Ethen Frank who fought off Luke Jaycox and pitched it over Hrenak for a 2-0 game.

Zach Okabe was whistled for tripping at 7:47 and the Huskies killed the penalty. The balance of the game seemed to change after that with the ice tilted in the Huskies favor and opportunities beginning to surface. As the penalty expired Okabe found himself alone down ice and he was fed the puck for a break on Aslanidis. But, he couldn’t beat Aslanidis with a backhand and WMU maintained their two-goal lead. Less than two minutes later Joe Molenaar had a break on Aslanidis but he was being pestered from behind and his backhand went wide.

The Huskies finally converted at 14:14 with a much-needed goal by Nolan Walker, his third of the season. Jared Cockrell made a nice cross-ice pass to Walker and he ripped a shot from the top of the right circle past Aslanidis to narrow the Bronco lead to one goal.

The Huskies persisted and clearly were creating opportunities as they closed out the period with a shot from Nick Perbix that was blocked in traffic.

Ethen Frank (Photo courtesy Mark Kuhlmann)

Period Three
Clearly the aggressor, the Huskies continued to pressure the WMU zone with a save on a shot by Veeti Miettinen from the low left circle five minutes into the period and a shot by Micah Miller from the right circle two minutes later. Kevin Fitzgerald failed on an attempt to stuff the puck inside the right post at 8:30 into the period.

After persistent pressure by the Huskies, the Broncos were forced to take a time out with 6:16 remaining in the game. This was followed by another good opportunity by Miettinen from the top of the right circle and a huge opportunity for Hentges as he placed a shot off the right post with 5:11 remaining.

The Huskies ultimately pulled Hrenak for an extra attacker with 1:10 remaining. The Huskies were able to apply intense pressure with multiple opportunities but were unable to gain the equalizer before Ethen Frank scored in the empty net to seal the win and sweep by a 3-1 score for the Broncos.

The Huskies outshot WMU 29 to 20 and despite being a very physical game, each team was only penalized once with neither team converting on the man-advantage. Alex Aslanidis had another strong outing in the goal stopping 28 of 29 shots to earn his third win of the season and improve his undefeated record to 3-0-1. The Huskies David Hrenak turned aside 18 of 20 shots losing his second consecutive game to see his record fall to 7-5-0.

Stars of the Game: #1 Alex Aslanidis (WMU) #2 Ethen Frank (WMU) #3 Cole Gallant (WMU)

Next Up: The Huskies return home to the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center for two games with Miami on January 22/23.

BOX SCORE

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