Kalamazoo, MI – Make that five consecutive losses at Lawson Arena for the #2 ranked SCSU Huskies. It was a tough grind-it-out game for almost two periods and then the Broncos Ethen Frank broke things open with three consecutive goals as the #13 Broncos blitzed the Huskies 6-2.
In the end, it was another penalty-filled NCHC game for the Huskies being whistled seven times for twenty-five minutes resulting in two power-play goals against and with the Broncos putting the game out of reach with a four-goal third period. Appropriately, it was Frank who sealed things with an empty-net goal at 17:57 as the Huskies were attempting to mount a comeback for his fourth goal of the game.
“I liked the way we ground it out late in the first period and the second and got some chances and took advantage of them,” said Frank who scored his first collegiate hat trick.
“(In the) second half of games we haven’t been closing out as strong so we’ve been trying to preach to each other we need to finish off games strong and that’s what we did tonight,” said Frank.
The Broncos not only kept their winning streak against the Huskies intact at Lawson Arena but also snapped a three-game skid including being swept on the road by Denver last weekend.
“It’s a standard NCHC battle,” said head coach Pat Ferschweiler. “They played hard, we played hard. It was a low-scoring game for a long time and we got a couple of breaks in the third period and took advantage of them. We got some great goaltending out of Brandon Bussi early and allowed us to get that lead and then we obviously held on late.”
The Huskies were behind the eight-ball early as Nolan Walker was assessed a five-minute major for high sticking just 4:22 into period one as he inadvertently had the blade of his stick poke through Bussi’s mask while in position to tip a shot. Walker was given a game misconduct, was lost for the game, and the Huskies had their lines disrupted for the balance of the game.
Bussi left the ice, had his wound repaired in the locker room, and returned eight minutes later to resume his duties in goal.
The Huskies killed that penalty but yielded the first goal of the game to the Bronco’s Ty Glover on the power play at 15:55 of period one while Zach Okabe was seated in the penalty box for cross-checking.
The Broncos outshot the Huskies 8-5 in period one mainly due to the Huskies being short a man for seven of the twenty minutes in the period.
Two consecutive penalties to the Broncos to start the second period gave the Huskies a bonafide opportunity to even things up but they were only able to muster two shots on goal on the man advantage.
Concurrent penalties to Jami Krannila and Seamus Donohue at 6:09 of the period again had the Huskies on the defensive killing a five on three for 1:14 but the Broncos only had two shots on Hrenak and the Huskies were still only down by a goal.
The Huskies finally began to create some momentum of their own in the latter part of the second period with extended offensive zone time and a number of quality shots on Bussi. But, the Broncos withstood the pressure and responded with Frank’s first goal of the game at 17:41. Cole Gallant found Frank wide open in the left circle and he beat Hrenak for a 2-0 Bronco lead.
The Broncos outshot SCSU 10-9 in the period and carried a two-goal lead into period three.
It was all Ethen Frank in the third period scoring an even-strength goal just 56 seconds into period three and a power-play goal a minute later after Kevin Fitzgerald was penalized for delaying the game off a faceoff. Suddenly the Broncos had a four-goal lead and were in control of the game.
Max Sasson added another even-strength goal a 7:53 for a 5-0 WMU lead and it appeared the Broncos were cruising with a five-goal lead. However, another delaying the game penalty, this time to the Broncos Ty Glover at 10:39 put SCSU on the power play for the fourth time in the game and they finally cashed in. Zach Okabe who was parked in the slot lifted a puck over Bussi for the Huskies’ first goal of the game and cut the lead to 5-1.
Twenty seconds later, the Huskies added another by Micah Miller and the Huskies suddenly had some late-game momentum. With nothing to lose, the Huskies pulled Jaxon Castor who had replaced Hrenak at 10:19 of the period with 3:21 remaining to try to tighten the score further. Despite some pressure in the Broncos zone, Frank converted again at 17:57 for his fourth goal of the game to seal the 6-2 final.
The Huskies outshot WMU 16 to 8 in the period and 30 to 26 for the game.
Brandon Bussi logged the win stopping 28 of 30 shots on goal. The win improved his record to 7-4-0. Hrenak took the loss for The Huskies allowing 5 goals on 26 shots.
The Huskies were 1 for 4 on the man-advantage while the Broncos scored twice in six opportunities.
The Huskies clearly won the battle in the faceoff circle winning 39 of 66 faceoffs for a winning percentage of 59.1%.
There were a total of 12 penalties for 35 minutes assessed in the contest. SCSU was penalized 7 times for 25 minutes.
Stars of the Game: #1 Ethen Frank (WMU), #2 Drew Worrad (WMU), #3 Brandon Bussi (WMU)