The Western Michigan Broncos ended a nine game skid Friday night, 4-3, against the Ferris State Bulldogs in Lawson Ice Arena.
It was Bronco netminder Riley Gills first win in goal since Nov. 20 when he defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes and Bronco junior Matt Clackson netted the game-winning goal to lead the Brown and Gold to victory.
Obviously, I am extremely pleased for the guys next door and rewarded for our hard work here tonight, Bronco Coach Jim Culhane said. Weve had a number of games here that we have worked hard and showed a lot of passion, but not been rewarded. Tonight, we played with that passion and worked extremely hard and found a way to come back and tie and then net the game winner.
I think it kind of epitomizes the game a little bit, when the fourth goal, game winner is just from hard work from both the Clacksons and Adam Flink, he said.
The game started quickly for both teams as the Broncos were able to crack the scoring column first, just 1:04 into the game when Western Michigan defenseman Kevin OConnor threw a wrister at the net that flew into the back of the net past the Bulldog net minder Pat Nagle. Seniors Jeff Pierce and Nathan Ansell circled the puck around the FSU zone over to OConnor to earn the assists.
After striking first, the Bulldogs didnt trail for long as FSUs Brendan Connolly was able to poke his own rebound going five-hole on Bronco goalie Riley Gill, as the Bulldogs worked the puck around the offensive zone with Jim Jorgensen picking up the assist.
Just 25 seconds later, FSU was at it again with freshman Mike Fillinger as he skated up through the slot on a loose puck and chipped it home into the back of the net. Gill had fallen down on the play and was unable to get back on his feet before Fillinger was able to get into the box score with his third goal of the season. Bulldogs Blair Riley and Adam Miller were credited with the assists.
During a sequence of three Ferris State penalties that awarded WMU with a two-man advantage on the power play, the Broncos Tyler Ludwig put a pass on Patrick Galivans stick, who then slid the puck cross-ice to the top of the left circle for Ansell as he ripped home a rocket putting it between the left post and Nagle. The tally notched the score at a two apiece at the 5:07 mark of the opening period.
It took just 10:08 seconds for the Bulldogs to break the 2-2 tie, and they did on their own 5 on 3 power play opportunity as FSUs Cody Chupp was able to punch in the rebound chance as Menkes shot from the point ricocheted off Gills pads, and Chupp was able to swing the puck around the Bronco net minder for the go-ahead tally.
I thought both teams tightened it up defensively there in the second, and then Riley Gill was exceptional tonight, said FSU coach Bob Daniels.
Both teams would skate to a scoreless second period as the Broncos had three chances on the power play during the second set of 40 minutes to the Bulldogs just one opportunity.
My greatest disappointment lies in that third period as we had the lead going in there and we lost it, Daniels said. It was a great play by Western to score their fourth goal on their end of things, and it was just a disappointing play on our side defensively.
With the Bulldogs J.T. Dahlinger being whistled for a slashing penalty at the 18:59 point in the second period, the Broncos started the final period on the power play for the first 59 seconds. The power play chance would not hurt the Bulldogs to begin the period, but just two seconds after the teams were skating at full strength Bronco freshman Max Campbell punched in his fourth tally of the year as Ansell fired the puck on net leaving Campbell to do the dirty work and bang home the goal. Galivan also was credited with his second assist of the night on the game-tying goal.
We have really tried to keep putting things together lately, and it was nice tonight that we stayed together as a team getting a couple of bounces tonight and we ended up winning the game, Ansell said.
The Broncos were able to earn the game-winning goal in front of the net off the stick of Matt Clackson with a group of Bulldogs surrounding him, and was able to beat Nagle for the marker.
My brother [Chris] had the puck behind the net and we had a little play that he was going to take it to the net on the roll with Flink coming in hard, drawing the goalie over a little bit, and helped me get the goal, Clackson said.
Western Michigan (7-17-1 overall, 2-15-0 CCHA) would go on to hold off the Bulldogs (10-11-2, 7-9-1) final extra attacker in the final 1:30 of the game, and came within just inches on a couple of tries to add an empty netter, but was unsuccessful.
To me, I truly believe that you cant judge an individual or a team until it to goes through adversity, and is when you see the true color of team and the true colors of an individual, Culhane said. Tonight, I liked what I saw with that. We were down, they came back and we were able to respond getting the tying goal and then the game-winner. I thought our team played better as the game went on.