Senior Sports Reporter
Another night, another shootout.
Western Michigan and Notre Dame each scored in the first period of Saturday night’s hockey game at Lawson Ice Arena, and then kept each other at bay as the defense took over, eventually leading to a shootout loss for the Broncos.
WMU head coach Andy Murray liked the overall play of his team throughout the weekend series against UND.
“We expected tight games,” Murray said. “It was interesting, in the Ferris series I didn’t think we were as good as we needed to be; in the first game against Miami I didn’t think we were as good as we need to be, and when we went to Ohio State I don’t think we were as good as we needed to be. I think these games were real good for us. We’ve got two big games against Michigan State next weekend, and they’re going to be battles for us. What’s important is that we play solid games back to back like we did this weekend.”
UND forward Bryan Rust started the scoring off in the first period. At 10:38 of the first period UND captain Anders Lee won a faceoff in the Broncos zone to defenseman Eric Johnson. Johnson found Rust wide open in front of the Broncos net and he fired a shot that WMU goalie Frank Slubowski saved, but Rust grabbed the rebound and slid it in for his 12th goal of the season and second on the weekend.
After being outshot for a majority of the first period, WMU finally got on the board with a power play goal. Tri-captains Luke Witkowski and Danny DeKeyser cycled the puck and found junior Mike Cichy at the top of the left circle. Cichy fired a puck past UND goalie Steven Summerhays’ blocker into the net for his fourth goal of the season, tying the game at one.
“I looked up to pass and saw Summerhays shift his body to the other side, so I just ripped it real quick and hit the post and in,” Cichy said.
In the second period, the shorthanded Broncos had an opportunity to gain the lead after Trevor Elias took the puck hard to the net drawing a penalty. Will Kessel grabbed a lose puck and fired it into an empty net, but the goal was controversially waived off by the referee.
Coach Murray did not have a lot to say about the play after the game as he was waiting for an official ruling from the ref’s report. Cichy felt the goal should have counted.
“We had our chances, and their goalie was hot,” Cichy said. “Then Kessel’s goal got called off that we definitely thought should have counted, but you can’t do anything about that. We take a lot away from tonight, it’s a step forward.”
Neither team found an advantage in the third period or in overtime sending the game into a shootout, the second in two nights.
Cichy’s opportunity missed wide of the net in the first round. Mike Leone, having scored in the shootout the night before, tried the same move on Summerhays but he read the play all the way and stopped the senior’s attempt.
Rust and Lee both buried their attempts past Slubowski giving the Fighting Irish the second point in the standings.
After the game, Lee described his shootout winner, saying he changed his approach from being denied the previous night.
“Last night I didn’t put any move on it before I shot,” Lee, the UND captain, said. “Tonight I tried to get him to be a little more vulnerable and open his legs, but shootouts are tough; their tough on the goalie and the shooter and tonight I was on the right end of the stick.”
With the shootout loss, WMU remains in second by one point in the CCHA standings over Notre Dame. Miami (OH) swept Lake Superior State giving themselves a five point cushion heading into the final weekend series of the season.
WMU travels to Michigan State in their final series of the regular season next weekend. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. in East Lansing.
Follow @Wenzel_Herald on Twitter for news, live updates, and complete game coverage throughout the season.