KALAMAZOO, Mich. — There was something different, something just did not feel right in Friday nights 3-3 overtime tie between the Western Michigan Broncos and the Lake Superior State Lakers.
It seemed off, thats a good way to put it, we needed something, said Lakers coach Jim Roque.
Bronco net minder Riley Gill said it looked like something that can happen with two bottom of the pack teams, when asked about the lack of energy that it looked like the Broncos and Lakers both were not playing with.
It seemed like it had a lot of little battles in the corners with a lot of strong muscle play in the corner and didnt have a lot of up and down play up and down the ice, Gill said.
The Broncos entered the weekend series trailing the Lakers by three points in last place in the CCHA as the Lakers came in on a three game unbeaten streak after last weekends three point series against Ferris State as LSSU escaped with a 3-2 victory and then skated to a 1-1 overtime tie with the Bulldogs the next night.
Striking first tonight was the Lakers at the 8:40 mark of the opening period when the Lakers Chad Nehring skated up in front of the Bronco goal receiving a pass from line mate Troy Schwab from behind the net and Nehring was able to chip the puck into the back of the net past Bronco goal tender Riley Gill.
However, the Broncos didnt trail long as sophomore Cam Watson registered his eight goal of the season less than two minutes later. Bronco winger Jeff Pierce started the rush as his goal was stopped by Lakers net minder Brian Mahoney-Wilson as Broncos senior Brian Biceks rebound try was blocked away and then Watson was finally able to capitalize on the second rebound try lighting the red lamp on the tally.
My thoughts, I did not think we played very well I was very disappointed, said Lakers coach Jim Roque. I thought we played hard, but we just some dumb plays with the puck. There were times in the game when guys were wide open and we just shot it in the shin pads. I dont know where the guys heads were.
The second part that disappoints me is that we need some of our older guys to step up, my young guys are playing great, he said. [Troy] Schwab and Dan Eves we need our older guys to play well to win.
After the first period of play the Broncos and the Lakers were tied on the scoreboard at one goal apiece, the Brown and Gold had a 14-9 advantage in the shots department.
The Lakers were able to regain their one goal lead once again in the second period on defenseman Steve Oleskys first tally of the year. Olesky was able to deke his way around a couple Bronco defenders, slipping a shot right past Gill into the back of the net. Lakers Will Acton and Jason Blain were credited with the helpers on the goal.
I thought it seemed to be a really evenly matched game, they were able to get the lead on us a couple of times, but I think it shows a lot of resiliency and character of the group next door to continue to persevere and continuing to battle, said Bronco coach Jim Culhane.
We had a lot of contributions from a lot of people, and then late in the third period Max [Campbell] was going into the critical scoring area and being rewarded and getting the puck in the net for us. It was competing real hard for a point tonight for 65 minutes.
Late in the second period, on the Broncos lone power play opportunity of the game Broncos senior Jeff Pierce was able to chip home the tying goal when junior co-captain Jeff LoVecchio put a centering pass on Pierces stick in front of the net that he was able get between the pipes as Lakers goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson had slid out of position.
I kind of went up to [Patrick] Galivan and he made a pretty sick play at the blue line, got it over to the left side, Campbell went down to LoVecchio, I just went to the net wide open and LoVecchio threw the puck at me and the puck was just laying there as Galivan missed the net, I picked it up and just threw it on net because everybody was crashing the net, and the goalie was out of the net as it hit his skate and went in, Pierce said, explaining what happened on his seventh tally of the year.
As the first 40 minutes of the game seemed to lag intensity and energy from both sides, in the final period it looked like the Lakers were picking up the intensity as the third period played on. The Lakers were able to take their third lead of the game on sophomore Zach MacVoys go-ahead goal at the 7:10 mark on a shot that was fired off a pass from the face off won by the Lakers Rick Schofield over to MacVoy putting a shot on net at Gill as he went to make the glove save, and the puck just slipped right off his glove, flying into the air and landing between the pipes.
Just like in each of the first two periods, the Broncos were able to respond late in the third period as Campbell blasted his sixth goal of his freshman campaign inside the slot off a rebound from a shot by Jeff LoVecchio to even the scoring once again heading into the extra session.
The Lakers got off the only shot in overtime as Gill came up with one of his 30 saves on the night to earn the tie. Mahoney-Wilson stopped 29 of the 32 Bronco shots fired on net.
Ties would be a great thing, except with the team right in front of you in the standings, Gill said as the Lakers sit three points in front of the Broncos in the CCHA. We have to get a win tomorrow and get some ground on them. Hopefully, we will be able to get the victory.