KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Penalties were the key to the game as the Western Michigan Broncos opened with a 6-2 victory over Western Ontario on Saturday night.
1,950 fans were in attendance at Lawson Arena to see a game that featured 192 total penalty minutes. Seven of the eight goals were tallied on the power play.
Senior center Paul Davies opened the scoring for the Broncos at 3:09 of the first period, the first of what would become a hat-trick night for Davies. Mike Rice put Western Ontario on the board with an even-strength goal midway through the first, and followed that with a power play goal which gave Western Ontario a 2-1 advantage through the first period of play.
Paul Davies struck again at 11:32 of the second period with the second of his three power-play tallies. Davies was followed by sophomore Vince Bellisimo just a minute and a half later giving the Broncos a 3-2 advantage. Davies closed out the second period scoring at 16:29.
Coming into the third period facing a 4-2 deficit, Western Ontario’s frustration began to show. The Mustangs were penalized 19 times in the final period, for a total of 78 minutes. At 13:39 of the third both sides reached their breaking point, as a skirmish in the Bronco zone ended with 114 total penalty minutes being handed down and four players from each side receiving 10-minute misconducts.
“We were kind of expecting it, we’re a lot quicker team than they are and they’ve got a lot of size and we matched that up,” Davies said when asked about physical play towards the end. “They were getting kind of frustrated and it was only a matter of time before something broke out, but I thought our guys handled it really well.”
Though penalties dominated the story of the game, the Broncos were able to take advantage of a worn out Mustang penalty-killing unit. They also put out a strong defensive effort, holding Western Ontario to just 17 shots for the game.
“They capitalized on the scoring chances that we gave up there in the first period, but then we felt we settled down pretty well, and played well defensively,” said Bronco Head Coach Jim Culhane, who felt that his team covered all the defensive aspects he and his coaches had stressed prior to the game.
Absent from the Bronco lineup was team captain Dana Lattery, as well as veterans Lucas Drake and Matt Ponto. All three remain questionable for next Friday’s regular season opener against defending CCHA champion Ferris State.