KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Lawson Arena continues to be a house of horrors for the Michigan State hockey team.
The high-powered trio of David Gove, Mike Bishai and Steve Rymsha each scored multiple points as the Broncos handed the Spartans a 4-2 defeat Friday. With the win, Western Michigan (17-9-6 overall, 10-8-6 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) snaps a six-week, 10-game winless streak. The Spartans have just two wins in their last eight trips to Kalamazoo since dating back to the start of the 1995-96 season.
Gove, who tallied a goal and an assist, notched the game-winner 4:27 into the third period. MSU goaltender Ryan Miller made the initial save on a drive from the point by the Broncos’ Mike Bishai. Miller kicked the rebound to his right, but a streaking Gove picked up the carom and flicked it into the net for his 21st goal of the season.
“We lost to a very good team,” said MSU head coach Ron Mason, who fell short in his bid for his 600th win behind the Spartan bench. “You have to get some breaks to win in here. I thought our kids played as well as I could ask. I don’t think we could have played any better.
“We had great chances around the net, but we didn’t get much puck luck.”
Western Michigan opened the scoring in the first period, successfully capitalizing on its first power-play opportunity of the evening. With Brad Fast serving a two-minute minor for tripping, the Broncos’ Steve Rymsha rammed home a rebound with 2:58 left in the stanza after Miller stoned Mike Bishai on a point-blank chance.
Even though the Spartans (24-4-4, 17-4-3 CCHA) outshot WMU, 9-6, in the opening frame, Miller, who made 18 saves on the night, stood out during the game’s first 20 minutes. His most spectacular stop was a diving save on Rymsha, who netted a goal and a helper, just seconds into the Bronco power play. The sophomore goaltender lunged from the far post to the near corner of the net, deflecting the opposing winger’s point-blank attempt with his blocker.
John Nail evened the score with 8:30 second period on a pretty play set up by linemate Sean Patchell. The group was set to change lines after fending off a furious Bronco attack. Patchell lugged the puck to center ice and feigned a dump into the offensive zone. The move froze the Western Michigan defender for a split second, allowing Nail to gain a step on the Bronco rearguard as Patchell hit him with a backhand pass. Nail broke in on WMU goaltender Jeff Reynaert and beat him with a backhand to the stick side as he was hauled down by a defender.
The momentum swing was short-lived, however, as WMU scored just 22 seconds later. Defenseman Josh Akright found Jeff Campbell alone in the slot for an easy one-time goal, his 21st of the season.
Rustyn Dolyny would score early in the third period during an MSU two-man advantage. His blast from the top of the far circle hit traffic and trickled past Reynaert 34 seconds into the stanza. The goal snapped the Spartans’ 0-24 drought on the power play dating back to MSU’s Jan. 23 contest against Lake Superior State at Munn Ice Arena.
Bishai, who has a goal and two assists on the night, added an empty-net goal for the final margin of victory.