KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Behind Daniel Bellissimo’s solid performance between the pipes, captain Mike Erickson’s 2 goals and 1 assist, and Paul Szczechura’s 1 goal and 3 assist performance, Western Michigan handed No. 4 Ohio State its first loss, 5-1, in the early part of CCHA league play.
“It was a real strong effort. We had a good week of preparation. We came out and played real hard. I’m very pleased with the team’s effort,” said Bronco head coach Jim Culhane.
The scoring didn’t start until early in the second period when Western’s power play clicked for the first time on the night. Erickson received the first of Szczechura’s assists and put the puck in the back of the net.
Sophomore Jeff Pierce scored the Broncos second goal, sending the puck between Buckeye goaltender Dave Caruso’s arm and body.
Ohio State lost its captain, Nate Guenin, late in the second period when he was called for a checking-from-behind major and was sent to the showers with a game misconduct.
“It’s a 60-minute game, and you want to think the guys can overcome that, but obviously we didn’t tonight,” said Buckeye head coach John Markell.
Szczechura added his first goal of the season from Brent Walton and Erickson while Guenin’s penalty was being served, giving the Broncos a commanding 3-0 lead heading into the third period.
Following Szczechura’s goal, Ohio State went to its bench, bringing in sophomore goaltender Ian Keserich to replace Caruso.
Just 8:14 into the third, freshmen Jeff Lovecchio scored the first goal of his career on a shorthanded breakaway, beating Keserich low to the stick side.
Erickson finished the Bronco scoring, once again on the power play, taking Szczechura’s third assist of the night and putting the Broncos up 5-0 with just under ten minutes to play.
“I was just in the right place at the right time. Wally found me on both of them, and (Szczechura) made a nice play taking advantage of the ice on the one I tipped in,” said Erickson.
Bellissimo’s shutout was ruined at the 15:13 mark when Buckeye forward Andrew Schembri scored his second of the year.
“Four minutes left, it’s not a big deal. I’m sure it will come, my first shutout. As long as you get the win, that’s the big thing,” Bellissimo said.
Ohio State had a total of 37 shots on goal while Western only had 16.
“You have to look at Western Michigan. Its power play worked great, its penalty kill worked great, it had great goaltending, it had good second effort and it won one-on-one battles. They deserved to win the game,” Markell said.
Special teams played a huge role in this game as the Broncos scored on 3 of their 9 power play chances and added a shorthanded goal, while Ohio State finished 0-12 on its power play.
“The big thing I’m happy about is we’ve seen improvement from week to week. Seven young freshmen and six sophomores, you want to see improvement,” Culhane added.