The 2019 Bronco hockey season is just around the corner as they play the sixth annual Battle of the Borders game against Northern Alberta Institute of Technology on October 5 at 7 p.m. inside Lawson Ice Arena.
Last year, the Broncos finished No. 12 in the country and No. 3 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. This is an improvement from the 2017-18 season when they finished seventh in the NCHC. WMU enters this season ranked No. 14 in the preseason poll.
After the disappointing upset to Colorado College in NCHC quarterfinals last season. Coach Murray is looking to take his veteran stacked team and play up to the level that he knows they are capable of.
“It’s the first year since I’ve been here that we’ve had a large senior class,” Murray said. “I think that experience is something that I’ve seen makes the adjustments easier.”
Western Michigan has thrived exceptionally during the coach Murray tenure in Kalamazoo and it appears to show no signs of slowing down. The Broncos have been put back on the map as an elite hockey program in the country.
“There’s a lot of expectations for our team out there,” Murray said. “But I don’t want our guys talking about winning until they learn how to win and that comes with good practice habits, living your life the right way, going to class and getting good grades.”
This season, Hugh McGing will lead the Broncos after being voted captain during the offseason. Entering his senior season, McGing is ready to improve his play and lead the WMU hockey program to a championship. According to coach Murray, he’s the right man for the job.
“He’s a leader and he was chosen by the players and the coaches, but the coaches ultimately pick the captain. He’s a senior and could have signed with the Blues at the end of last season, but he wanted to come back and finish his degree,” Murray said. “He also has some unfinished business with this hockey program, he plays hard and our fans identify with his energy, he’s captain because he does things the right way.”
Murray is also optimistic about the future of Bronco hockey as a lot of first year players from last season have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience. They also brought in four new recruits for the upcoming season. Those freshmen will be comprised of goalkeeper Brandon Bussi, forward Jason Polin, defensemen Ronnie Attard and Scooter Brickey
“You count on your players that were freshman that are now sophomores, you’re counting on them getting better,” Murray said. “We’ve brought in four recruits who all have the ability to step in and play right away and all our players have one more year of experience so we expect them all to be better.”
After losing Trevor Gorsuch this off season, the Broncos are yet again in a position to find themselves a goaltender for the start of the season. There is no sure fire goalie yet for the Broncos. However, the Broncos might go with senior Ben Blacker since he has the most experience on the ice out of all the other goaltenders.
“There’s a battle going on, we have four goaltenders battling to be the guy who starts the first game,” Murray said. “We’ve had five inner squad games, we’ll have two more before our season starts. In those games and practices we keep track of all numbers, the most important position on any team is the goaltender and we need to pick the right one.”
The Broncos have the potential to make the 2019-20 campaign a special one as we inch closer to the beginning of hockey season. With some returning players like Josh Passolt, Wade Allison, Luke Bafia and many more they will certainly be contenders in the NCHC and nationally.