KALAMAZOO, Mich. — With Western Michigan (17-17-1, 14-13-1 CCHA) leading Game 1 of a first-round CCHA tournament series with Alaska (10-19-6, 7-16-5 CCHA) late in regulation, the Nanooks stunned the Broncos with a 3-2 overtime win in front of 1,584 at Lawson Ice Arena Friday.
Alaska erased the Broncos’ lead in a matter of one minute and five seconds. With Darcy Campbell serving a minor for contacting the head of a Bronco with a high stick, Ryan Muspratt scored a shorthanded goal to cut WMU’s lead to 2-1 with 2:22 remaining.
The Nanooks were back to even strength for a mere seven seconds when Campbell, fresh out of the box, knotted the score at 2 off a WMU turnover its own zone.
UA’s Lucas Burnett then decided the matter 4:09 into the extra frame with his third goal of the season, giving Alaska the win and a 1-0 lead in the series.
After skating 20 minutes without a goal or a penalty, Western Michigan broke the scoreless tie with two tallies in the second period.
The first came at the 7:27 mark when Pat Galivan sent a shot on net and was stopped. Jeff LoVecchio took the rebound and sent it over to Paul Szczechura, who put it in the back of the net for his 16th goal of the season.
The Broncos’ second goal came with just six ticks left on the clock. With Western Michigan on the power play, Mark Letestu netted his team-leading 22nd goal of the year. Seniors Ryan Mahrle and Szczechura assisted on the score.
The game opened with a clean, albeit uneventful, first period as Alaska outshot Western Michigan, 11-8. Neither team was whistled for a penalty in the first period.
WMU had a three-on-one midway through the first period (Pierce, Bicek, Letestu). Pierce sent it across the crease to Letestu on the left, but he waited a bit too long as Letestu had to try and adjust and by the time he did, his attempt hit the side of the net.
The Broncos had another prime scoring opportunity a minute later when UA goalie Wylie Rogers gave up a rebound on a save but again, Western Michigan could not find the back of net.
Alaska enjoyed its second power play of the game when Galivan was called for faceoff interference. The Nanooks’ Curtis Fraser had a shot on goal, trying to beat Riley Gill down low on his glove side, but Gill slid into position to make the save.
These two teams will lace up the skates again on Saturday with the puck dropping in Game 2 at 7:35 p.m. in Lawson Ice Arena.