KALAMAZOO, Mich. — In front of a crowd half the size of the announced attendance of 2,367, Sacred Heart and Western Michigan played uneventful, scoreless hockey for 52:46 until WMU co-captain Mike Bishai scored the game-winner to break the deadlock, en route to a 2-0 Bronco victory over the Pioneers.
WMU (8-4-3) extends its unbeaten streak to six games at 5-0-1, while SHU (4-7-1) suffered its fourth straight loss.
Despite being victorious, WMU head coach Jim Culhane was still looking for improvement.
“I think we can play better. Give them a lot of credit; Sacred Heart kept it close. I’m pleased about the fact we found a way to win; I think Mike (Mantua) played well in net for us. They didn’t get a lot of great scoring opportunities, but the ones they did get, the saves he was able to make were obviously the difference in the game.”
Culhane gave credit to the hard work by SHU.
“They played hard. No way did we outhustle Sacred Heart, by no means. I think maybe in the hustle department, they might be up on us.”
SHU head coach Shawn Hanna was proud of the effort by his Pioneers.
“I think our guys played their hearts out. I think they competed well; it’s been a problem as of late, we haven’t competed for 60 minutes, and I thought we did tonight. The goals they scored were great goals; I don’t think we gave them anything. Nothing came easy for Western tonight.”
“I thought our guys played real well in front of the net, blocked some shots, played a solid defensive game, and got solid goaltending from Eddie Ferhi.”
SHU junior goaltender Eddy Ferhi tallied 29 saves on the evening, coming 7:14 from shutting out the potent WMU attack until Bishai took a cross-slot pass from sophomore Jeff Campbell and one-timed it over the Frenchman’s left shoulder to put WMU up 1-0 at 12:46.
After Ferhi was pulled for the extra attacker at 19:25 of the third period, sophomore Paul Davies iced the game with a shot from the red line that found its way through two Pioneer defenders.
In a quick game that finished in a little more than two hours, the two squads combined for just six penalties. WMU’s Mantua finished with 12 saves to record his second shutout of the season.
Hanna spoke about what it will take to win Saturday.
“I thought, offensively, we had some chances to score and we didn’t put them in the net. I think offensively if we bear down on our opportunities, it’ll be different,” he said.
The teams meet for the second game of their two-game series Saturday at Lawson Ice Arena. Faceoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.