SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Brent Walton’s school record-tying 11th career game-winner couldn’t have come at a better time for the Western Michigan Broncos.
Walton redirected Ryan Mahrle’s shot from along the boards at 6:46 of overtime to lift Western Michigan to a 3-2 victory over Lake Superior State in the opening game of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament held at “Taffy” Abel Arena. The best-of-three game series continues Saturday.
Walton scored twice on the night, including his team-leading 25th of the season, as WMU defeated LSSU for the first time in five games. Just minutes earlier, WMU’s Paul Szczechura appeared to have scored at 5:58 of overtime, but referee Stephen McInchak ruled the whistle had blown before the shot crossed the goal line.
“It was a tremendous team effort, I couldn’t be more pleased with our team,” said WMU coach Jim Culhane. “We kept our focus and played extremely hard.”
Jason Moul provided the Broncos’ other goal, tipping in a pass across the crease from freshman Jeff LoVecchio in the first period. LoVecchio finished with two assists as did defenseman Ryan Mahrle, who factored in the last two goals.
Trent Campbell and Nathan Ward scored for the sixth-seeded Lakers, who were hosting a CCHA series for the first time since 2000.