DULUTH, Minn. — It’s called the Silverado Shootout, and Western Michigan took the name literally in Friday’s championship game at the DECC.
Freshman defenseman Mike Jarmuth scored the first two goals of his collegiate career, while six other Broncos also found the back of the net in their season-high 44-shot attack, as No. 7 Western Michigan crushed Merrimack, 8-1, during the penalty-marred final matinee in front of 3,077.
Host Minnesota-Duluth and Colgate faced off for third place in Friday’s nightcap. Western Michigan blanked the Red Raiders, 2-0, in Thursday’s tourney opener.
The convincing victory gave the Broncos their sixth holiday tournament title in the program’s history and first since the 1995 Syracuse Invitational. Meanwhile, Merrimack failed in its bid for its first tournament championship since turning Division I in 1989.
Highlighting Western Michigan’s dominating performance was the dynamic playmaking of junior center Mike Bishai, Division I’s leading scorer. The Edmonton native set up two of the Broncos’ first four goals and added one of his own, bringing his season total to 42 points in 18 games.
For the tournament, Bishai, who was named the final’s Player of the Game, registered two goals and three assists.
“We came out and had to concentrate a little more on what we do best,” said Bishai, who stymied the Warriors for most of the game with his fancy stickhandling. “We were able to get a couple of goals and then the flood gates just opened. Everything came together.”
Merrimack, which appeared tired after beating Minnesota-Duluth in Thursday’s second game, had no answers for the Broncos except in penalty minutes.
In fact, the game set the third-year tournament record for most penalties (25) and penalty minutes (99). Western Michigan freshman Brian Pasko and Merrimack senior Joey Gray contributed to the ugliness in the second period with a pair of majors for fighting and game disqualifications, while Pasko receiving an extra five-minute major for hitting from behind.
“It got a little chippy out there,” Bishai said, “but it wasn’t that bad. Both teams have respect for one another.”
Merrimack sophomore Anthony Aquino, who was selected the Player of the Game in Thursday’s win over UMD, scored the Warriors’ lone goal at 5:03 of the third period. It was the only goal Bronco goaltender Jeff Reynaert surrendered in the tournament, snapping a 105:03 shutout streak at the DECC for the junior.
“I think fatigue, travel and not being done until 10:30 last night affected Merrimack,” said Western Michigan coach Jim Culhane, whose club improved to 14-3-2 (7-2-2 CCHA). “That wasn’t the same team we saw last night.”
The Broncos built a three-goal lead by the 17:16 mark of the first behind goals from Jarmuth, Bishai and freshman Jeff Campbell. Their advantage grew to 6-0 by the end of the second period, as Jarmuth added his second before freshman Paul Davies sent Merrimack starting goalie Joe Exter (12 saves) to the bench.
Sophomore Brent Rumble scored at 19:47 of the second on Warrior senior Tom Welby (24 saves) to cap the Broncos’ second three-goal period.
“We got done by a couple of goals and a little panic set in,” said Merrimack coach Chris Serino, whose club fell back to the .500 mark (10-10-1). “We started running around and getting away from our game. Our two games here might be the worst defensively we’ve played all year.”
Senior Mark Wilkinson and junior Chad Kline finished off the Broncos’ fireworks late in the third to finish off their Hockey East foes for their 12th win in their last 15 games.
“We wanted to generate more offense, chip the puck in and go after it instead of looking for the perfect pass like we did against Colgate,” Culhane said. “We were definitely sharper tonight.”