KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The 3,074 fans that filled Lawson Ice Arena saw big hits, nifty goals and spectacular goaltending by both the Wildcats (14-12-2, 10-10-2 CCHA) and the Broncos (6-16-4, 6-11-3), in a 2-2 tie.
Bronco goalie Daniel Bellissimo faced 31 Wildcats shots and turned 29 of them aside, while Northern net minder Bill Zaniboni turned away 22 of Western’s 24 shots.
“I thought both teams played great. Both goaltenders played well, big saves at either end,” Bronco head coach Jim Culhane said.
Daryl Moore started the scoring with just over a minute left to go in the first period when he lit the lamp on the power play. Brent Walton started the play by feeding the puck to Mike Erickson who then fired a shot on net. Zaniboni let the rebound go and Moore pounced out on it and slid it to the back of the net.
The Cats responded 3:05 into the second period when Nathan Sigmund beat Bellissimo for a goal. Nick Sirota started the play by feeding Rob Lehtinen who broke in on a 2-on-1 with Sigmund. Lehtinen slid the puck to Sigmund who beat Bellissimo over his outstretched pad.
49 seconds later the Broncos went ahead again while on the power play. Erickson made a brilliant pass from the half boards to a streaking Kevin Labatte who redirected the puck over Zaniboni and into the top shelf. Moore was given the second assist, his eighth of the year.
With under a minute left to go in the second period, Mike Santorelli scored his 10th goal of the season with the assist going to Jamie Milam. The goal came on the power play.
Although the third period didn’t see any scoring, both teams had their chances. Western was giving a five-minute power play when Patrick Murphy was called for checking from behind and was shown the gate with a game misconduct.
“We (Northern Michigan) played well. You like to win games but we played really well. We had 6 or 7 odd-man rushes that we converted for shots, but Bellissimo was good,” Wildcat head coach Walt Kyle said.
Western Michigan finished 2-for-7 on the power play while Northern Michigan finished 1-for-5.
“We scored two power-play goals, they scored one. There was only one 5-on-5 goal scored in tonight’s game,” Culhane said.
The Broncos travel to Yost Ice Arena Tuesday to face off with the Michigan Wolverines before hosting a home-and-home series with in-state rival Ferris State over the weekend. Northern Michigan hosts Wayne State next weekend.