KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Lawson Arena was host to another spectacular hockey game for the second weekend in a row as the Broncos of Western Michigan claimed victory over their in-state rival Michigan State Spartans by a score of 5-4.
Outstanding play was created from both sides although the work from the formed line of Brent Walton, Paul Szczechura, and Kevin Labatte showed they were too much for the Spartans. Each line member put a tally on the board while accumulating six points between the three.
Bronco’s forward Szczechura felt great about his work and the work of his line mates. “We got a great chemistry right now; the puck just keeps going in the net for us and just work hard every game and see what happens.”
Although the Broncos came out on top, Michigan State was led with a valiant effort from left wing Drew Miller who recorded his first collegiate career hat trick — all key goals, including the tying goal late in the game.
Miller, a draft pick of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks noted that although the goals were good, he was still disappointed with the team’s loss.
“Well it’s always nice to get the goals, but it’s a team game and we didn’t get it done tonight,” he said. “We have to come back tomorrow night, play 60 minutes and stay out of the penalty box.”
The game was off to a vivacious start as the Bronco’s power play, which was key in tonight’s victory put up the first goal of the game 1:32 in as Paul Szczechura was hit nicely from a crisp pass off the tape of Brent Walton in which Szczechura directed it home.
Michigan State came right back standing tough as Ethan Graham brilliantly threw the puck on net, which deflected of the pads of Bronco goalie Daniel Bellissimo 0:17 later and tying the game at 1-1.
Later in the period, a great play by defenseman Nathan Ansell set up the Walton line again after Ansall kept the puck in the zone and then fed Szczecuhura who spotted Walton in slot for a one-timer.
The pace of the game continued to shift back and forth between the teams, creating an exciting game throughout the intense third period.
Drew Miller etched his hat trick at 1:40 in the third as Michigan State capitalized on a Bronco penalty and put the black biscuit home to tie things up at four.
The Lawson Lunatics stayed put in hopes of a Bronco game-winner and they we definitely not sold short.
The power play, which was a big story for the team tonight, came up big once again with just over seven minutes remaining. Vince Bellissimo slammed home the game-winner as his shot from just inside the blue line found a way through traffic to the back of the twine, much to the dismay of Spartan goalie Dominic Vicari.
That goal put the Broncos up 5-4 and that’s how it ended.
Michigan State Head Coach had few words on his frustration about the game.
“It’s more than you can possibly imagine”
Freshman goalie Daniel Bellissimo was noteworthy for his effort, as he made a career high 46 saves with his team being out shot 50-25 (The most shots Western have given up in four years).
The Broncos will look to take the weekend sweep as they head north to Munn Arena for tomorrow night’s finale. The puck drops at 7:05.