WMU Hockey

Western Michigan hockey is about to face a tough task this weekend with a home-and-home series with the No.1 Michigan Wolverines. This series comes after the Broncos swept the Ferris State Bulldogs to start the year and had this past weekend off.

WMU has struggled against the in-state rival and former conference foe. Michigan has owned the Broncos over the years as the Wolverines are 73-35-10 all-time against WMU.

Keys for the Broncos

If the Broncos hope to sweep the No. 1 team in the country, it must get pucks behind Wolverine goalie Erik Portillo. Portillo is 4-0 on the year with a 2.00 goals allowed average and a .929 save percentage.

For the Bronco offense to be successful, it will need to continue to get production from all four lines. There are currently eight skaters on WMU that have at least two points, Ethen Frank currently leads the Broncos with five points on three goals and two assists.

The Broncos will also need to play defense with great execution and make no mistakes as the Wolverines have the second-highest scoring offense in the country. The Broncos come into this series tied with three other programs for the third-best defense in the country. Having a big impact on the Broncos solid defense play so far through the year has been Brandon Bussi.

Against Ferris State, Bussi stopped 41 pucks, had one shut out and allowed a total of three goals over the series.

“Bussi is an elite goaltender in college and we’re very grateful to have (him) back this season,” head coach Pat Ferschweiler said in his weekly press conference. “We’re looking forward to very special things from him.”

The Broncos have been perfect on the penalty kill so far this year, having stopped all eight of Ferris’s attempts on the power play. WMU will also need to be perfect on the penalty kill against Michigan, which is first in the country in power play percentage converting on 50% of its attempts.

“I thought the penalty kill was exceptional, (associate head coach) Jason Herter brought a few new wrinkles on the forecheck and in the end zone and I thought our guys picked it up well and executed at a high level,” Ferschweiler said. “When your goalie is your best penalty killer, your penalty kill is going to be pretty good and Brandon was exceptional back there.”

Scouting the Wolverines

The University of Michigan has a loaded roster that contains 13 NHL draft picks with seven of them being first rounders.

The Wolverines are one of the best teams on offense this year, currently second in the nation behind Denver in goals. Michigan has scored 22 total goals this year for an average of 5.5 goals per game. The Wolverines have skaters that can produce on all four lines with 13 different players scoring a goal this season.

Some of Michigan’s most dangerous offensive weapons include Brendan Bisson, Thomas Bordeleau, and Owen Power.

Bisson is first on the team as he has eight total points so far this season while scoring five goals and assisting on three. Bordeleau is second on the team with seven points, scoring two goals and earning five assists. Power has six points on the season scoring one goal and having a share of the team lead with five assists.

The Broncos will travel to Ann Arbor Friday for the first game which is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. WMU will then host the Wolverines Saturday in Kalamazoo for the series finale, with puck drop at 7:05 p.m.

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