KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Co-captains Mike Bishai and Dana Lattery tallied three points each and senior Chad Kline scored 1:11 into overtime as Western Michigan defeated Alaska-Fairbanks Saturday night, 5-4.
Kline lifted a wrist shot over the right shoulder of UAF goaltender Lance Mayes to end a game that saw WMU score four unanswered goals after starting the game down 2-0. Senior goaltender Mike Mantua had 25 saves for the Broncos, including a brilliant penalty kill that saw the WMU down one man for five minutes. Mayes also finished with 22 saves.
UAF coach Guy Gadowsky gave credit when credit is due.
“I felt it was an excellent hockey game,” he said. “I think we deserve a little credit for coming back when down 4-2, we had a chance to ice the game with a 5-on-3 power play late in the third and we didn’t do that, we had a terrible breakdown on a defensive zone face off in overtime, and they certainly deserve the win.”
WMU coach Jim Culhane was glad for the victory, but still isn’t satisfied with the team’s performance.
“Walking out the door, we’ll take the two points, but there is still a lot of work to do,” Culhane said.
WMU had two key chances to score early off UAF defensive turnovers when Kline’s shot at 3:06 dribbled wide of Mayes and Jeff Campbell’s wrist shot from the slot was also denied. UAF got on the board first when sophomore Cam Keith took a rebound from Blaine Bablitz’s shot and beat Mantua between the legs to give the Nanooks a 1-0 lead.
UAF would score again 33 seconds later when senior Bobby Andrews broke in alone from the right side of the ice and beat Mantua low to give UAF a two-goal lead midway through the first period.
Again, defensive mistakes almost hurt the Broncos on the scoreboard during the game when freshman Mat Ponto deflected a clearing attempt off a UAF forward, only to have the puck fall behind Mantua before he covered it up.
Freshman Pat Dwyer took a pass from Bishai and one-timed it past Mayes from the top of the crease at 18:25 to decrease the UAF lead to 2-1.
WMU would score their second of four consecutive goals early in the second period when sophomore Nic Boileau took a drop pass from Paul Davies and roofed the puck past Mayes to even the score at two goals a piece.
After UAF freshman Aaron Voros received a five-minute boarding major at 9:29, WMU capitalized when defenseman Mike Jarmuth’s shot hit the post and trickled in past Mayes to give the Brown and Gold a 3-2 lead.
Voros would receive another penalty at 19:21 for interference, and the Broncos took advantage once again. Campbell took a feed from Bishai and Lattery and dented the twine to give WMU a 4-2 lead.
UAF finally received a break early in the third period when Bishai took the puck into the UAF zone two-on-one and fed Campbell with a nice pass, only to have the shot slowly dribble by a clearly beaten Mayes.
Following WMU senior Anthony Battaglia’s cross-checking penalty at 2:07, the Nanooks made the game a one-goal affair when Mantua wandered out of the net trying to see around a screen, only to have Bablitz wrap-around behind the net and score to decrease the WMU lead to 4-3.
UAF would score 57 seconds later after freshman Jared Sylvestre went top- shelf from the top of the crease over a laid-out Mantua to even the score at four each.
Everything seemed, like the previous game, to go UAF’s way until Jeremy Cheyne was assessed a five-minute major and a game disqualification for spearing at 8:58 and Bishai was given a minor penalty for charging at 10:02, giving the Nanooks a five-on-three advantage for two minutes, including a five minute power play. The Bronco penalty-kill proceeded to deny the Nanooks’ every shot and brought the crowd of 2,648 at Lawson Ice Arena to its feet.
Culhane was excited about the great job the special teams did late.
“All six defenseman on the penalty kill were the difference in the game,” he said. “How exciting for senior Chad Kline to score a goal in overtime to give us the win.”
The Broncos proceeded to carry the momentum into the overtime session when Kline took advantage of a UAF defensive breakdown and beat Mayes high glove side to give WMU a thrilling 5-4 victory, and helping the Broncos salvage two points in the series.
The 1-1-0 Broncos host a home-and-home series with I-94 rival Michigan next weekend, while 3-1-0 Nanooks continue their bitter intra-state feud with Alaska-Anchorage.