Western Herald – WMU hockey will enter battle for first place despite loss of key players
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WMU hockey will enter battle for first place despite loss of key players

Kenny Wenzel
Sports Reporter

The No. 6 Western Michigan Broncos play host to No. 3 Miami (OH) Redhawks Friday and Saturday in a weekend battle for first place in the final season of the CCHA.

WMU will be short-handed for Friday’s match-up as junior defenseman Dennis Brown and sophomore forward Justin Kovacs have been suspended by the CCHA for their actions in last weekend’s series against Ferris State.

Brown was assessed a 5-minute major for checking from behind and a 10 minute disqualification in overtime and is automatically suspended for one-game.  Kovacs is suspended for one-game from the CCHA from his tripping the goalie penalty in the third period of the game.

WMU will also be short-handed as sophomore Garrett Haar will not play.  He has not played since Dec. 15 due to an undisclosed upper body injury.

Senior Ben Miller is being called upon to replace Brown for Friday’s game.  Miller replaced Brown in the Great Lakes Invitational championship when Brown was out due to a lower body injury.  Brett Beebe, Robert Francis, and David Killip are being considered as replacements for Kovacs.

The Redhawks enter the weekend with a five-game winning streak.  The wins include back-to-back series sweeps against Alaska and Bowling Green and a non-conference victory over Wisconsin.  WMU enters the weekend with a five-game unbeaten streaking going 4-0-1 in their last five contests.

Miami ranks first in both scoring offense and scoring defense in the CCHA.  The Redhawks are scoring just over three goals a game while also giving up 1.75 goals a game.

WMU scores 2.4 goals a game, which ranks seventh in the CCHA while also giving up 1.85 which ties them for second with Ohio State.

The Broncos rely heavily upon their special teams units.  WMU claims the top stop in the CCHA in both power play (22.9) and penalty kill percentage (88.0).

Statistically, both teams get stronger as the games progress.  Both team’s goals per period increase the further the game goes along.

WMU enters the weekend series in second place in the CCHA with 43 points, only one point behind first place Miami. There are a possible of six points up for grabs.

Both games will face-off at 7:05 p.m. at Lawson Ice Arena.  Fans are encouraged to wear lavender instead of the traditional black for “Hockey Cares” weekend.  In the past, WMU has worn pink jerseys, but this season they will wear lavender to promote awareness for all types of cancer.

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