KALAMAZOO, Mich. — New night, new hero for the scorching Western Michigan Broncos.
A night after left winger Steve Rymsha had a hat trick, freshman center Dana Lattery netted two goals — including the game-winner — as the Broncos completed a two-game sweep of visiting Dartmouth with a hard-fought 5-4 triumph Saturday night at Lawson Arena.
“What’s fun for us right now is that different people are contributing for us offensively,” said Western Michigan coach Jim Culhane. “Tonight, Dana Lattery gets two, and Brent Rumble and Jeff Campbell each get one.
“We have five wins in a row under our belt now, so we’ll take it.”
Where a two-goal night from Lattery and a five-goal showing overall would have been more than enough Friday night, every Bronco goal counted against the much-improved Big Green this time around.
In the end, the power play made the biggest difference for the Broncos (6-1-1). They finished 3-for-10 on the night and 4-for-18 on the weekend, bringing their season success rate to 25.8 percent.
“There’s a lot of creativity out there,” Culhane said of the power play. “There is some structure to it, but we let those kids be as creative as possible. They’re given some guidelines and parameters to look at, but they make things happen out there. Right now, things are clicking.”
Dartmouth (0-2-0) played very aggressively after losing 5-0 Friday night.
The Big Green outshot the Broncos 40-27 and finally connected on the power play, finishing 1-for-7. The penalty kill and overall defensive play continued to suffer, but Gaudet has a positive outlook heading into league play next weekend.
“I thought we played a tremendous hockey game from the drop of the puck to the final buzzer,” said Big Green coach Bob Gaudet. “We showed intensity, energy and pride out there. I was proud of our guys.
“As I told them after the game, if we can play with this intensity and passion during the season, I know good things will happen. And that’s what I expect. I don’t expect this to be an aberration.”
The Big Green opened the scoring less than two minutes into the game when Jason Costa connected for his first career goal. After blueliner Pascal Lalonde won a neutral-zone battle for the puck, Jamie Herrington winged it to the freshman Costa, who dumped it past goaltender Jeff Reynaert (36 saves) for the 1-0 lead.
After that, however, Western Michigan’s dangerous attack took control.
The Broncos beat rookie goalie Darren Gastrock (22 saves) on the power play twice in a five-minute span, as defenseman Josh Akright logged his first career lamp-lighter and Campbell one-timed home a Mike Bishai pass to give their team a 2-1 lead. Western Michigan stretched its lead to two with Rumble goal late in the period.
The Big Green cut the deficit to 3-2 early in the middle frame when sophomore Kent Gillings fired in his first career goal, also Dartmouth’s first power-play netter of the season. The Broncos reclaimed their two-goal advantage soon after with a Lattery man-advantage goal, but Dartmouth made it 4-3 midway through the period when flu-ridden Chris Taliercio snapped a Frank Nardella pass to the top of the net.
The teams traded goals in the third period, as Lattery netted his second of the game before Dartmouth forward Chris Baldwin cut it to 5-4 with his first of the season.
The Big Green battled for a few near-misses toward the end, but the game essentially ended when Mike Turner was whistled for a cross-checking penalty with just over a minute remaining.
Both teams return to action next Friday night. Western Michigan will pay a visit to Niagara, while the Big Green opens ECAC play against Brown.