KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A different night, a different game, but the story remains the same.
For the second time in as many nights Alaska Fairbanks saw a two-goal advantage heading into the third-period vanish before its eyes, falling to Western Michigan 5-4 on Saturday night.
Paul Davies tucked the puck under the crossbar at 17:23 of the third just before the net came off its moorings, capping the Broncos improbable comeback.
“Aside from the start that we had we took the play to them most of the game,” said Davies.
“With our cycling and keeping the puck down low we wear teams out. I showed last night and it showed again tonight; we’re a stronger team in the third period.”
The Broncos’ determination and character cannot be questioned after battling back in the third on consecutive nights, particularly when you consider that WMU found itself at a two-goal disadvantage just 31 seconds into the game.
“I think we’ve turned the corner in the locker room and guys are confident in each other,” said Davies. “When you give us minus 30 seconds into the game, two goals is nothing for a team with our offensive ability.”
Though the Broncos found themselves down 3-1 and 4-2 at the end of the first and second periods, respectively, they carried play for a good 40 minutes of the game.
“This team is on a role right now,” said WMU forward Lucas Drake who had two goals on the night. “We have a lot of guys going right now, lines are clicking and we’re scoring goals; we’re getting it from everywhere.”
“There’s no guarantee that at the end of the day you’re going to get rewarded for hard work, but that’s all we can ask of them and they’ve been doing it for us,” said WMU head coach Jim Culhane.
“Even with the horrible start we were able to stick together and persevere through that adversity and I think that says a lot about what we have.”
The loss brought an end to a 14-day, four-game road trip for the Nanooks and also saw the third consecutive game in which UAF blew a third-period lead.
The Broncos, who overcame two-goal deficits three times in the game, are unbeaten in five straight conference games at home and are 7-1-1 against CCHA teams at Lawson Arena this season.
Despite the loss, UAF senior goaltender Preston McKay made a career high 43 saves on the night as the Broncos pounded him with a season-high 48 shots on goal. Scott Foster picked up his second victory on the weekend, stopping 17 shots for the Broncos.
WMU and UAF will continue play in conference next weekend with Broncos traveling to Nebraska-Omaha and the Nanooks hosting Northern Michigan.