KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Steve Rymsha has been Western Michigan’s emotional leader all season. Now he’s the Broncos’ scoring leader too.
Rymsha had his third hat trick of the season Friday night, leading the surging Broncos to a 5-0 win against Dartmouth at Lawson Arena. Rymsha now has 10 goals and 17 points in seven games, tied with senior right winger David Gove for the team lead.
Rymsha had 13 goals in 34 games last season.
“I think what it is, is just a lot of emotional adrenaline,” Western Michigan head coach Jim Culhane said of Rymsha.
Rymsha, a senior forward, has lost two close relatives in the past month. His grandfather passed away three weeks ago, and his grandmother died this past week. He missed several days of practice both times as a result.
No matter. Rymsha’s “emotional adrenaline” has carried him through the hockey season thus far.
“It’s just a neat story,” Culhane said. “He only practiced a few times this week, but came back and said, ‘Hey, I want in.’ Then he comes out and scores three goals. Maybe he’s got an angel with him.”
The seasoned Broncos (5-1-1, 3-0-1 CCHA) didn’t need much divine intervention on this night, as Dartmouth looked rusty in its season opener. The Big Green, expected to be strong on defense, hung with the home team for 40 minutes before the Broncos caught fire in the final period, lighting the lamp three times to ice the win.
Dartmouth’s offense was largely absent, allowing goaltender Jeff Reynaert to record his first career shutout in 52 games. The Big Green (0-1-0, 0-0-0 ECAC) finished the night 0-for-10 on the power play (compared to 1-for-8 for the Broncos), a statistic that must improve as the season progresses.
Head coach Bob Gaudet thinks it will.
“It’s a totally different team each season,” the coach said. “As I’ve said over and over, unless you play weak teams, you’re not going to go somewhere and crank out eight goals. I’d like to score one goal and start from there, but we’re playing a team that’s very seasoned.
“I think some aspects of our game will improve each game. We still have things to work out.”
Western Michigan took a 1-0 lead in a first period filled with penalties. The visitors kept up with the aggressive Broncos throughout the period, save for when the Big Green committed three penalties in a span of 1:33.
The Broncos took advantage of their 5-on-3 time, as freshman Jeff Campbell knocked a rebound marker past a sprawled goaltender Nick Boucher (25 saves), who had made four saves on the power play up until then. Campbell’s goal was his sixth on the young season, tops among rookies in the CCHA.
The Broncos stretched their lead to 2-0 with a 4-on-4 lamp-lighter midway through the second period. Rymsha recorded his eighth goal on a rebound, coming after Ryan Crane blasted a strong shot from the point.
The Big Green outshot Western Michigan 10-9 in the frame, but couldn’t solve Reynaert, who produced several impressive saves, including two on a Chris Baldwin breakaway early in the period.
The Broncos owned the third period, outshooting the Big Green 13-6 while exploding for three goals. Rymsha had two of them, sandwiched around Mike Bishai’s fifth of the year. The junior Bishai now has nine points in his last four games.
“They’re a good team. They’re seasoned,” said Gaudet. “We worked hard, we just couldn’t get anything accomplished. We had some chances, especially in the second period, but we just couldn’t put it away.”
The Broncos and the Big Green close their two-game series Saturday night.