Western Michigan split their series with NCHC rival No. 19 Omaha Mavericks ending their six-game unbeaten streak. The No. 20 Broncos took the first game winning 3-2, but lost the second game 6-3 and now set at 6-4-2 (2-1-1 NCHC) on the year, good for second place in the conference.
The first period of game one saw the Broncos strike first as Paul Washe scored his sixth goal of the year. The Broncos would take the 1-0 lead into the second period.
Roughly six minutes into the second, the Mavericks tied the game up at 1-1. Then less than two minutes later, Washe scored his second goal of the night to give the Broncos a 2-1 lead.
Near the tail end of the final frame, Austin Rueschhoff netted the third goal of the night to make give the Broncos a two goal advantage. After Omaha pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker, they scored with 34 seconds left to make it 3-2, but its comeback efforts fell short and the Broncos won 3-2.
WMU was on the opposite end of the stick in the second game, losing the contest 6-3 in what was a hard fought game, even though the score may not say so.
The Mavericks got on the board early in the first period taking a 1-0 lead thanks to Omaha’s Kevin Conley. Conley scored again about six minutes later to give the Mavericks a 2-0 advantage. After the two unanswered goals by Omaha, the Broncos responded near the end of the period thanks to Ethen Frank who scored his second of the year to make it 2-1 Mavericks.
In the second period, the Broncos let in a power play goal about four minutes in to make it a 3-1 deficit. Within a minute after going down by two, the Broncos responded thanks to a goal from Dawson DiPietro. The Broncos knotted up the game with 12:30 left in the second as Frank netted his second goal of the night.
Conley earned a hat trick after scoring late into the second to make it a 4-3 lead for the Mavericks as they headed into the final intermission.
With roughly six minutes left to go in the third, the Broncos let up another goal to Omaha. The Mavericks sealed the game after they scored on an empty Bronco net to win the contest 6-3.
The Broncos have been playing better in their recent games, but they fell victim to penalties once again as they committed six with led to 12 minutes of shorthanded play. They also allowed a total of two power play goals on the night.
Omaha has been solid on defense this year and the second game showed that was true. Out of the 29 total shots the Broncos took, the Mavericks blocked 18 of them.
Associate head coach Pat Ferschweiler was at the helm for the Broncos in the second game as head coach Andy Murray missed the contest due to illness. Ferschweiler gathered from the series that this Omaha team, who only won nine games last year, is for real this time around.
“They play hard, they’re well coached and they’re organized,” Ferschweiler said. “They’re going to be a tough team to beat for a lot of teams in our league.”
The Broncos will now get set for a weekend road trip to Denver to play the No. 2 Pioneers. The Friday and Saturday puck drops are scheduled for 9:07 p.m. EST.