KALAMAZOO, MICH. — Western Michigan notched its first victory over Michigan since December 9, 1995, as freshman goaltender Mike Mantua had 23 saves, and the Broncos scored three unanswered goals in the second period to help WMU stun No. 5 Michigan 3-1.
In front of a sellout crowd of 3,869 at Lawson Ice Arena, senior Mike Bishai tallied three assists to continue his torrid pace and senior defenseman Ryan Crane score the game-winning goal at 14:13 in the second period. Michigan senior goaltender Josh Blackburn struggled on the night, making only four saves in the second period, while finishing with a total of 18. Mantua’s play during special teams again helped swing the momentum in the Bronco’s favor, including three big saves while down five-on-three in the second period.
Mantua credited the WMU defense for the win. “It’s pretty easy when you don’t get any high-quality scoring chances. The defense was playing great.”
Jim Culhane is glad to get his first victory against Michigan as WMU’s head coach.
“That’s the first time that we, as a staff, have found a way to win against the University of Michigan. Obviously, it’s an outstanding program with a lot of rich tradition, so it’s a nice win for our program at home.”
After a slow start marred by penalties and icings, Michigan got on the board first at 9:08 when freshman Eric Nystrom took a feed in the slot from senior John Shouneyia and beat Mantua between the pads on the power play to put Michigan up 1-0.
Shouneyia had a chance for his second goal early in the second on an open net but missed on the shot as it went wide of the net.
Following an interference penalty by Wolverine junior J.J. Swistak at 3:41, WMU co-captain
Dana Lattery deflected a shot from the blue line off a Michigan player and into the net at 5:23 to give WMU a power play goal and tie the game up at 1-1.
The deafening WMU student section helped the Broncos carry the momentum to their second goal, when defenseman Ryan Crane scored his first of the season, the game winner, off a scramble in the front of the net after a Jeff Campbell shot to give the Broncos the lead at 2-1.
Coach Culhane is well aware of how much a raucous student section can help the home team. “Our students turned out in droves and they’re a huge difference in making it tough to play here.”
To finish its domination of the second period, WMU would score its third goal of the game at 19:32 of the second period when defenseman Dave Cousineau, after taking a drop pass from Paul Davies, skated in from the blue line alone and took his time before burying the puck past Blackburn to bring the score to 3-1.
The Bronco defense effectively contained Michigan star forward Mike Cammalleri, holding him to five shots on net and zero points.
Crane gave praise to defenseman Paul Davies after the game. “He did a real good job tonight. Cammalleri didn’t get any points. We have to be aware every time he’s out there. He’s a real dangerous player. I think Paul did a good job tonight and made it easy for the defenseman.”
Coach Culhane knows that it takes the whole team to earn a conference victory. “It was a total team effort. Everyone contributed, from Mike in net, to the six defenseman. Everyone contributed on both sides of the puck.
“Every league game is important, whether you are obviously playing the Wolverines or anyone else. There’s nothing different in the standings than we get the win and they get the loss, and we get to do it again tomorrow.”
Michigan Head Coach Red Berenson was unavailable for comment following the game.
The two teams play in the final game of the two-game set Saturday at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. Face off is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.