MARQUETTE, Mich. — The Western Michigan Broncos came to Marquette in hopes of keeping the Northern Michigan Wildcats in last place of the CCHA. Both teams began tonights game with zero CCHA wins for the 2007-08 season and both were hoping to add one to the charts.
Northern’s Gregor Hanson took a slashing penalty less than two minutes into the game, the only penalty of the first period, to help put Western on the board with a power play goal from sophomore Cam Watson. The Broncos followed up with two more goals to take an early 3-0 lead that resulted in some changes on the Northern bench.
“They had 3 goals in 4 shots; I wasn’t going to let it be 5 in 7 shots. We had to do something to change our mentality, so I put Stewart in for Ellingson,” Wildcats’ coach Walt Kyle said. “I had to change the momentum somehow in the game. It was one option that I had.”
The Broncos’ built their lead to 3-0 early in the second when Watson added another goal.
However, the Wildcats’ Phil Fox took advantage of a five-on-four and put Northern on the board at 4:44 on a rebound.
As the second period was dwindling down, the Wildcats stepped up. On a double rebound, junior Nick Sirota put the puck in the net as he lay splayed in front of the crease.
“Sirota had a really good goal tonight,” Kyle said. “Phil Fox got his third goal of the season. But our best player tonight was our fans. They hung with us at 3-0 and really gave us the energy to keep going and we really appreciate it.”
The Broncos regained the two-goal lead late in the second. Westerns Cam Watson helped add to the Broncos tally by contributing two goals and an assist, a three point total and personal record.
“I was just in the right spot a few times tonight,” Watson said. “Northern kept coming at us, but we held them off.”
“Cam has been a consistent forward with us,” Culhane said. “It’s good to see a sophomore who only played 11 games last year come out and have success in a game like this.”
The game continued with few penalties. The third period remained scoreless despite the strong effort by both teams and Northerns empty net the last few minutes of play.
“I like having few penalties in the game,” Culhane said. “Both teams played clean. I’m not a fan of 9-10 penalties on both sides. Hockey is meant to be played five-on-five.”
“Coming off a sweep from Bowling Green with two overtime losses made it tough to come into this series,” Watson said. “It was big to get our first road win, our first CCHA win.”
“It was an entire team effort,” Culhane said. “We competed hard for 60 minutes and we were able to score on our opportunities. Any time you can score early in the game, especially on the road, it gives your team confidence. I’m happy with our success. We played well offensively, our defense was solid and handled the pressure Northern placed on them. We made some good decisions. We were able to score on our chances.”
The Broncos will attempt a full recovery from last weekend’s sweep with one of their own tomorrow as the Wildcats will battle to put a CCHA win in the books. The puck drops at 7:35 at the Berry Events Center.