KALAMAZOO, MICH. — Freshman forward Jeremy Cheyne scored two goals and one assist, and fellow freshman Pat Dwyer scored an assist and the game-winning goal to help the Broncos defeat a nationally-ranked opponent for the second consecutive weekend as Western Michigan upset No. 7 Maine 4-3.
WMU head coach Jim Culhane was happy for his team after defeating a national power in Maine.
“Maine is a tremendous hockey program and we have the utmost respect for what they have accomplished over the years: their Hockey East Championships, their National Championships, their Hobey Baker award winners, and their All- Americans. It’s just a tremendous program and it’s a nice accomplishment on our part to get a win against a premier power in Division I hockey.”
“You can single some guys out, but it’s total team effort. I think that everyone worked hard for 60 minutes, and gave us an opportunity in the third period to win the game.”
The three freshmen in the lineup for WMU — Dwyer, Cheyne, and defenseman Mat Ponto — continued their outstanding play into this weekend, each scoring. Senior Pete Metcalf and junior Martin Kariya each had a goal and an assist on the evening for Maine, but senior Matt Yeats struggled in net for the Black Bears, allowing four goals on 27 shots. WMU freshman netminder Mike Mantua had 29 saves on the night.
Special teams were the difference on the night as Maine finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while WMU scored twice on five attempts with the man advantage, including the game-winner by Dwyer while up five-on-three.
Maine head coach Tim Whitehead felt that turnovers in the defensive end did the Black Bears in.
“I thought we turned the puck over too much. Western Michigan is a very good hockey team, and we gave them too many opportunities at our net, too many grade-A chances, and we have to play a lot better defensively if we are going to beat them tomorrow night.”
“We didn’t play a smart road game. I thought we turned the puck over too much, and we took too many penalties. As a result, we gave them too many opportunities and you can’t do that against a good team like Western Michigan.”
After Maine forward Luke Lawson took a hooking penalty early in the first period at 1:28, the Broncos scored first blood when junior Brent Rumble buried a rebound past Yeats after a flurry of shots to put WMU up 1-0 at 3:13.
The Black Bears immediately struck back when Metcalf sent a rink-wide pass to a streaking Kariya, who tapped it in from the slot to tie the game 1-1 at 4:40.
WMU took the lead again at 16:26 when Paul Davies dropped a pass to Cheyne, who blew it past Yeats five-hole from the top of the left circle to give the Broncos the lead again.
In a classic see-saw game, Maine scored a little more than a minute later when sophomore Colin Shields skated from the high slot and beat Mantua high, stick side slap shot to again tie the game at two goals apiece.
Maine took the lead for the first time early in the second period on the power play, after Metcalf took a pass from junior Tom Reimann and knocked his shot from one post to the other before denting the twine at 1:15.
WMU would answer 1:15 later when Cheyne scored his second goal of the game by sliding a rebound stick-side past Yates to tie the game at 3-3.
WMU’s power play had a chance to increase the lead in the second period, after Metcalf was assessed a high-sticking minor after slashing WMU co-captain Dana Lattery while emerging from a scrum. But Bronco senior Anthony Battaglia had three shots stopped by Yeats, including a beautiful five-hole save on to keep the game tied.
Maine received a huge break while on the power play at 11:16 when sophomore Jeff Campbell’s shot slid behind Yeats, parallel to the goal line, and out of the reach of a Bronco forward.
Not used to the CCHA style of play, Maine was visibly frustrated on the night by WMU’s physical style. The Black Bears took three consecutive penalties in the third period, which included penalties by Kariya for crosschecking and Cliff Loya for interference at 5:05 and 5:26, respectively.
Whitehead felt his team was prepared for the Broncos’ style of play.
“Western Michigan is a very physical team, they finish their checks, and I thought they did it very effectively. But we expected that, we knew they’re a good team and we know they’re physical.”
The penalties by Kariya and Loya put the Broncos up five-on-three, which saw Dwyer score the game winner as he put back a rebound from Dave Cousineau at 5:40 to bring the game to it’s final score of 4-3.
The two teams were involved in a nasty scuffle following the final buzzer, which saw numerous players about to go at it, including WMU sophomore Prestin Ryan, who had to be escorted by teammates that included backup goaltender Mike Morrison. Mantua was in the thick of it for the Broncos, as usual, but no gloves were dropped, and Ryan was assessed four minutes for roughing following the game.
Battaglia wasn’t surprised by Maine’s reaction to physical play.
“We’ve been hitting them the whole game, keeping the puck in their end, and they couldn’t take it away from us. We were just taking the body on them all over the ice, and they couldn’t do anything about it.”
Mantua felt the same way.
“This is the roughest league in college hockey, the CCHA, and they’re not used to it.”
On a pleasant note, the WMU Blue Line Club raffled off a game-worn road jersey with the benefits going to the Coaches’ Foundation in honor of Maine head coach Shawn Walsh, who passed away in September.
Western Michigan (3-2-0, 2-2-0 CCHA) will meet Maine (2-2-0, 0-0-0 Hockey East) Saturday at Lawson Ice Arena for a rematch. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.