KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Canisius didn’t have the size or speed to match up with Western Michigan on paper, but that’s why the games are played on the ice.
WMU senior forward Anthony Battaglia tallied two power-play goals on the evening and sophomore Jeff Campbell had the game-winner plus an assist, while CC goaltender Sean Weaver had 33 saves to keep the game tight in a 4-2 Bronco victory that saw the Broncos (6-4-3) outshoot the Golden Griffons (5-4-2) 37-20.
WMU co-captain Mike Bishai and freshman Jeremy Cheyne also had multiple points on the evening as the WMU special teams continued their torrid pace by finishing three-for-eight on the man advantage, while stopping all four Canisius power plays.
“I didn’t know what to expect. They have a tremendous ethic. It could have been a difference in the hockey game. If we hadn’t matched their intensity and their work ethic, it could have very easily been a loss for us,” said WMU head coach Jim Culhane, who felt the game could have gone either way.
Canisius head coach Brian Cavanaugh knew what the Griffons were getting when they scheduled WMU.
“We knew that we were facing a formidable opponent. We worked all week on our systems, and working on how we were going to play in this building. To our kids’ credit, we really felt if we played well, we had a shot of being close to them and making an upset. … We’re certainly proud of the effort we put in.
“I think as a team, they laid it on the line. They played hard.”
WMU started the scoring midway through the first period at 11:44 when Battaglia poked a rebound off a shot from Cheyne past Weaver while up five-on-three, to give the Broncos a 1-0 lead.
Canisius answered when senior forward Corey Lucas caught WMU goaltender Mike Mantua out of the net and beat the goaltender top-shelf at 7:18 to even the score at one each.
WMU thought it had taken the lead at 8:18 of the second period, but referee Jon Gosger blew the whistle before the puck entered the net because of a Bronco forward in the crease.
The Broncos got that goal back less than a minute later, at 8:59 on the power play. Battaglia scored his second of the night by taking a shot from Cheyne that caromed off the far post to Battaglia, who beat Weaver glove-side.
Battaglia also gave credit to the Canisius work ethic.
“They never gave up and they were always outworking us, beating us to loose pucks in our zone. I think that was the difference in the game. If we do better in our zone tomorrow night, we won’t have a problem.”
Despite being significantly outshot, 27-11, through the second period, Canisius tied the game at 2:18 in the third period when forward Justin Carre blasted a shot off Mantua to a waiting Fred Coccimiglilo, who poked in the rebound to make it 2-2.
Canisius senior David Deeves was penalized for holding at 3:18 of the third period, and it only took WMU seven seconds to capitalize when Campbell took a feed from Bishai and dented the twine with the game-winning tally.
Bishai put the game out of reach for Canisius by taking a pretty pass from Campbell at the blue line, skating in unopposed, and beating Weaver with a nice deke around the goaltender’s right skate to bring the game to its final score, 4-2, at 17:48 of the third.
The two squads play again Saturday at Lawson Arena. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.