SCHENECTADY, N.Y. — A crowd of 1,623 at Messa Rink were in attendance for the second straight tie in as many days between No. 12 Western Michigan and No. 11 Union on Saturday night.
Despite Jeremy Welsh’s hat trick, the Dutchmen settled for a hard-fought 3-3 tie on home ice.
Chase Balisy’s goal at 8:04 of the third period gave WMU the tie and neither team could score the rest of the way. Dennis Brown fired a shot behind the net that caromed off the dasher behind the net. Balisy received the rebound and fired it into an open net.
Western Michigan opened up the scoring with a goal from Danny DeKeyser. After a Kyle Bodie holding penalty, the Broncos went to a power play unit that scored twice in five opportunities on the night. Greg Squires slid a short pass to DeKeyser, who rifled a slap shot past Union goaltender Troy Grosenick’s outstretched glove with 6:39 elapsed in the first period.
The Broncos’ lead was short-lived, however, as Union struck back at 9:15 on Welsh’s first goal. Just after a 5-on-3 Union advantage had expired, Welsh took a pass from Kelly Zajac and his quick shot beat WMU goaltender Nick Pisellini.
Western Michigan answered back at 18:09 of the first period as Shane Berschbach gained the puck deep in Union’s zone before depositing past Union goaltender Troy Grosenick, who finished with 23 saves.
Not to be outdone, Welsh tied the score at two with only 52 seconds gone in the second period. After Pisellini couldn’t corral Daniel Carr’s initial shot, Welsh snapped the rebound from the slot into a vacated net.
Union coach Rick Bennett talked about Welsh’s dominance on the ice.
“I thought he did an excellent job responding,” said Bennett. “It wasn’t about the three goals. It was about him keeping it simple, finishing his hits. Hopefully, our guys see that and leads to points.”
Later in the period, Max Novak threaded a pass from behind the net into the slot, which Welsh one-timed under Pisellini’s blocker at 8:52 for his second career hat trick. The first came against American International College last December.
As Union carried a 3-2 lead into the third period, reminiscent of Friday night’s game in which the team held onto a 2-1 advantage until late in the third frame, Western Michigan swarmed. Posting 11 shots against Union’s half-dozen in the third period, the Broncos were stymied by Grosenick.
Western Michigan did not relent, finally scoring against the young Union netminder on Balisy’s game-tying tally.
Grosenick suggested after the game that Western Michigan could have purposely planned to use the liveliness of the boards to their advantage. He was quick to point out, however, that “it hurts to lose two leads in third periods two nights in a row.”
“We talked about that before the third period,” said Western Michigan coach Andy Murray. “I told them they’re the best conditioned team in hockey and they need to go out and push all the way here in the third period. It’s a 20-minute period and you have to use every single minute. I thought we did that.”
During the overtime period, Union looked to be on their heels as Grosenick made a game-saving glove save at point-blank range.
“We really needed that,” said Bennett. “We’re never going to be satisfied with ties. I felt that some of us were on our toes, and wanted to play to win, and some guys, trying to get used to it, were playing not to lose. When you put that jersey on, we’re playing to win. We’ve grown as a team this weekend.”
“It’s a great measuring stick for us as a team,” Grosenick said. “It’s good to see where you’re at early and make some improvements.”