The No. 18 Broncos (2-3-1) squared off against the Michigan Wolverines this weekend for a two-game series. They traveled to Ann Arbor on Friday suffering their first shut out of the year, losing 4-0. Western came back to Lawson to host the Wolverines on Saturday and won in dominating fashion 4-1.
Game one on Friday was an abysmal performance by the Broncos as the Wolverines had their number from the first drop of the puck. Within the first six minutes of the first period, the Wolverines scored to make it 1-0. Two minutes later following the first goal, the Wolverines netted another to take a 2-0 advantage.
Western opened up the second period with a 2-0 deficit and still couldn’t get any momentum going. Less than a minute into the period, the Wolverines scored to make it a 3-0 deficit for the Broncos. Western started to rack up the shot count and even had a couple power play opportunities, but Michigan’s defense didn’t let anything up.
The Broncos came into the final frame down 3-0 and it continued to get uglier for Andy Murray’s program. Within the first 16 seconds the Wolverines added salt to the wound and scored another goal to make it 4-0. The Broncos again continued to rack up shots throughout the period, but to no avail.
The Broncos ended the night outshooting the Wolverines 36-31. Even though they created more opportunities, they had a hard time capitalizing. Western also didn’t take as may penalties in this game, but they took some unnecessary ones at crucial points that hurt their chances of a comeback.
“We’re struggling to score goals, we’re getting all kinds of shots and opportunities,” Murray said. “We had more chances than them, but that doesn't matter when you lose 4-0.”
The second game was a different story for the Broncos as they dominated the Wolverines for the entire game. The Broncos would end a three game skid and end the series on a positive note.
At the 1:09 mark in the first, the Broncos put a goal on the board to take an early 1-0 lead over the Wolverines. The goal came from Drew Worrad with the assist coming from Luke Bafia. Immediately following the early netter, Kale Bennett scored his first career goal to make it 2-0 Broncos just three minutes into the game.
The Broncos opened up the second period with a 2-0 lead but came in short handed from a penalty that happened late in the first frame. Within the first two minutes of the second, the Wolverines capitalized on that power play and cut the Broncos lead down to one.
The Broncos then had a power play goal of their own in the second period as Paul Washe gave Western their third goal of the night. The Broncos would take the lead going into the third, but they would again enter the period short handed as Lawton Courtnall got called for goalie interference.
Western entered the final frame with a 3-1 lead and would not let it get away from them. The Broncos extended their lead to 4-1 scoring the final goal of the game with 8.3 seconds left thanks to Washe who netted his second goal of the evening.
The Broncos picked it up at home in the series finale, they played harder, smarter and more collectively as a unit. Western was also able to score on more opportunities, they took 35 shots scoring on four while holding the Wolverines to just 26 shots on goal.
The Broncos also cut down on the penalties Saturday night as they only went to the box 5 times for a total of ten minutes short handed. That was better than their season average of 16.4 minutes worth of penalties a game.
After allowing a handful of goals to the Wolverines on Friday, Bronco goaltender Brandon Bussi was on his toes in game two. Bussi was a brick wall between the pipes and saved 25 shots and allowed one goal.
The Broncos look to take this momentum with them over into the next series as they will be going on the road to face conference rival Colorado College. Western has some animosity towards Colorado College as they eliminated the Broncos in the NCHC Quarterfinals last season ruining their NCAA tournament hopes.
Friday’s game will start at 9:37 p.m. EDT and Saturday’s game will start at 8:07 p.m. EDT.