KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Western Michigan finally came home.
Following a six-game road trip that covered over 7,500 miles, the Broncos returned Friday night to Lawson Arena and celebrated with a 4-2 victory over Mercyhurst.
While the night was a homecoming for WMU, Mercyhurst suffered its third consecutive loss in a game that marks the beginning of an 11-game road trip for the Lakers.
The Broncos were first on the board in a game that featured numerous scoring opportunities for both sides, but a startling inability for either team to finish chances.
With the Broncos up 1-0 following defenseman Brian Pasko’s first goal of the season, WMU looked to stretch the lead, and did so as Paul Szczechura finished off a 3-on-1 break.
Freshman Ryan Mahrle tallied the Broncos’ third goal of the night at 16:50 of third period.
With a three-goal cushion late in the second the Broncos looked ready to roll, until Jeremy Cheyne decided to shish-kabob a Laker in front of the Bronco net.
Cheyne received a five-minute major for the spear and a game disqualification, and the penalty led to two Laker goals — the first from Dave Borelli at 19:00 of the second, followed by Kyle Gourgon 3:16 into the third.
The score remained 3-2 for much of the third, thanks to several missed opportunities to shut the door by WMU, but Dana Lattery finally sealed the victory with just 20 seconds remaining when he broke in on an empty Mercyhurst net.
Scott Foster turned away 24 shots in the Bronco victory. WMU fired a season-high 38 shots at Laker netminder Jordan Wakefield, whose impressive play in his first collegiate start earned him the second star of the game.
Bronco head coach Jim Culhane did not take lightly an up-and-coming Atlantic Hockey program like Mercyhurst, particularly the Lakers’ effectiveness of late with the extra man.
“The thing that really concerned me and still concerns me was their 28-percent shooting on the power play,” Culhane said. “We get the five-minute major penalty and they’re able to score two goals.”
The Broncos and the Lakers will face off again Saturday night at Lawson Arena with the puck set to drop at 7:05 p.m.