The Broncos have found their way back into the national rankings coming in at No. 20 in the United States College Hockey Online poll following their sweep against Ferris State last weekend. Western will now get ready to host their NCHC rival, the No. 19 Omaha Mavericks this Friday and Saturday in their first home series of the season.
The Broncos and Mavericks come in with similar records, as Western is 5-3-2 on the year while Omaha is 5-2-1. However, Omaha leads the Broncos in the all-time series with a record of 26-19-6. The two teams have been playing each other since 1999.
The Broncos are unbeaten since Oct. 25 when their last loss came at the hands of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Ever since that game, the Broncos are unbeaten, winning or tying in every game.
WMU Keys to the Game
One thing the Broncos have been doing right lately is netting an abundance of goals. In the Broncos first five games they only scored nine goals, but over their last five they have found the back of the net 26 times.
A big part of the Bronco offense this season has been junior forward Paul Washe. Last season, Washe put up 11 points for the entire season. So far through ten games this year, Washe has 12. The Broncos will need him to continue to be effective with the puck in hopes of keeping their unbeaten streak alive.
Some other players that will need to continue to stay hot on offense are Drew Worrad, Hugh McGing and Dawson DiPietro,who all have 7 or more points on the season.
The Broncos will also need to keep up their defensive efforts as they have done a better job of keeping the puck out of their net of late. They will need to especially play tight defense against the Mavericks, who are hot on offense this year. Since the Broncos and Mavericks started playing each other, Omaha has scored 3.37 goals per game against them.
Freshman goaltender Brandon Bussi is still playing at a high level in the infancy of his Bronco career. Western will need him to keep up the streak of hot games as he faces an Omaha team who knows how to score. Bussi has a goals against average of 2.45, which is good for fifth place in the NCHC. Bussi also has a save percentage of .913 percent, ranking third in the NCHC.
A Look at the Mavericks
The Mavericks are off to one of their best starts in recent memory. Last year they only won a total of nine games. This year, they have already won five and are now nationally recognized as a threat in Division I hockey.
One thing that Omaha is doing better this year has been putting the puck in the back of the net. The Mavericks are averaging 3.62 goals a game, which ranks third in the NCHC (right in front of the Broncos who average 3.50).
WMU’s weakness last season and opening up this season has been penalties and Omaha is a team they will want to stay out of the penalty box against. The Mavericks lead the NCHC with a power play conversion percentage of 26.2%.
Omaha is stacked with youthful talent as the majority of their roster are freshmen and sophomores. A couple players to keep an eye on for Omaha are freshman forwards Joey Abate and Ryan Brushett.
Abate has a knack for finding the back of the net as he is tied for the lead in goals on the team with four. Brushett is becoming an effective playmaker as he leads the team in assists with six, which makes up his point total.
Omaha’s freshman goaltender Isaiah Saville is a force to be reckoned with. Saville has a 2.27 goals against average and a .914 save percentage this season and is one of the top goalies in the NCHC.
If the Broncos keep up the explosive offense and stay out of the box, they will have a good chance to sweep the Mavericks and stay undefeated in conference play.
Friday and Saturday’s game will both start at 7:05 p.m.. fans who are not able to make the game can watch on NCHC.tv or listen in on the Bronco Radio Network.