KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Freshman forward Micah Sanford tallied the game-winning goal early in the second period and junior goaltender Dan Ellis rebounded from a poor performance Friday by stopping all 22 Bronco shots to help Nebraska-Omaha defeat Western Michigan 2-0 and salvage a split on the weekend.
Sanford took a long pass at the blue line from Jason Jaworski and skated in clear before deking past WMU freshman goaltender Scott Foster at 2:41 of the second period to put the Mavericks on top 1-0. Foster finished with 18 saves on the evening.
“It was a totally different game from last night,” said UNO head coach Mike Kemp. “And the things we didn’t do last night, which I was very upset about, we did tonight. We did the right things: we played within our selves, we played a simple game, and we played the way you need to play on the road. We didn’t play run-and-gun, we were playing to limit their opportunities and play smart hockey.”
The Broncos, who were shutout for the second time in four games, failed to achieve many quality scoring chances on Ellis, as the Maverick defensive corps blocked 19 WMU shots on net.
WMU head coach Jim Culhane noted the number of blocked shots in his assessment of the game.
“I think it came down to a number of blocked shots, at least 15 or 20, that couldn’t get to the net. We hit a post, Danny Ellis played pretty well, and we didn’t execute at times real well on the power play, and it ends up being the difference in the outcome of the hockey game.”
Sophomore forward Gus Groslie gave UNO the insurance tally at 7:07 of the third period by taking a feed from Aaron Smith and roofing a shot from the high slot past Foster to put UNO up 2-0.
Both special teams were uneventful on the evening with UNO finishing 0-for-4 with the man advantage, while WMU was 0-for-6.
Kemp knows how vital Ellis is to his club.
“We’ve said this before, we go as far as he carries us. At this level, goaltending is such a huge part of the game, and we need him to play like he did tonight. He certainly tonight was on his game playing smart hockey in every area.”
WMU continues CCHA play next weekend at Northern Michigan while UNO returns to Omaha to host Alaska-Fairbanks.