KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Saturday night’s game between Western Michigan and Michigan State was one of those games that only one team deserved to win.
Michigan State dominated play on both ends of the ice in a 7-3 rout of the Broncos at Lawson Arena. The Spartans worked quickly to silence the Bronco faithful and as the third period wound down few remained from the standing-room crowd that had circled the arena an hour before the game in anticipation.
The opening minutes of play saw both teams fighting for control, but the Spartans began to dictate play in the offensive zone. It paid off at 6:14 of the period when Jim Slater tapped in a rebound in front of the Bronco net, putting MSU up 1-0.
Paul Szczechura answered for the Broncos at 11:47 of the first with a power-play goal to knot the game.
The period came to a close tied 1-1, with MSU taking a 10-4 advantage in shots.
A obstruction-hooking penalty as the period ended came back to haunt the Broncos. On the ensuing power play, David Booth’s shot from the top of the circle beat Mike Mantua glove side and put MSU up 2-1 just 34 seconds into the second.
Brock Radunske and Ash Goldie added tallies for the Spartans, prompting Bronco head coach Jim Culhane to pull Mike Mantua in favor of Scott Foster.
MSU skated out of the second with a 4-1 lead, having outshot the Broncos 21-12.
Circumstances didn’t improve for the Broncos in the third as Mike Lalonde scored just 24 seconds in to put the Spartans up by four.
Pat Dwyer gave the Broncos a little spark at 2:39, cutting the deficit to three, but Tommy Goebel tallied the Spartans’ third power-play goal at 12:50.
Slater increased the Spartan lead to five with his second goal of the night, when his power-play attempt found a seam along the goal and came to rest just inside the near post. Jeremy Cheyne added the Broncos’ third goal of the night at 15:01 of the third, but it was too little, too late.
Michigan State outshot the Broncos 30-16, the sixth straight game it which WMU has been outshot. The Spartans also went 4-7 on the power play, displaying the weaknesses of a Western penalty-killing unit that had been stellar at the beginning of the season.
The frustration of such a defeat was evident from Culhane.
“We’re extremely disappointed. Everything we touched didn’t turn into a positive and anything they touched turned into goals.”
Michigan State head coach Rick Comley felt that the hype on Western’s campus leading to the game played to the Spartans’ advantage.
“At times it’s much tougher for a home team in an atmosphere like that, because you have to perform. They don’t always get the big crowd like this.”
The road ahead doesn’t look to get any easier for the Broncos as they began a six-game road trip next weekend against Cornell, while MSU will face CCHA opponent Ferris State in a home and home series.