Conference races are tightening as the season winds down for all three of our hockey sides.
Western Michigan Broncos (19-7-1, 11-6-1 NCHC) Ranked #6
The Broncos have been road warriors lately, and this weekend was more of the same. The road has been kind to the Broncos, recording a split with top ten Minnesota-Duluth and a sweep of Colorado College in their last two series. Western Michigan looked to continue this trend as they loaded up the bus and hit the road to face off against top ten ranked St Cloud State up in Minnesota.
Friday night’s game was all about momentum. St Cloud State got the game started quickly with a goal just under two minutes into the game. The Broncos flipped the early momentum and tallied three straight goals. Not to be outdone, the Huskies responded with three straight second period goals to take the lead. Western tied it up less than a minute into the third period to tie it up, but St Cloud State took the lead back with a short handed goal. The Broncos rebounded one more time with a goal from Jason Polin to tie it up and send it to overtime. Neither team was able to net a goal in overtime and the score ended in a 5-5 draw.
Saturday night’s game got off to a slower start, going scoreless through the first period. St Cloud State broke open the scoring column half way through the second period, then tallied again just a few minutes later to put the Broncos down by two goals. Ethen Frank got the Broncos on the board, but unfortunately it would be their only goal of the night as they eventually fell 4-1 to the Huskies.
Next up for Western Michigan is a huge series with third-ranked Denver. The Pioneers are currently sitting in first place in the NCHC and hold a seven-point lead over the Broncos. If Western Michigan wants to win the NCHC, they will likely need to sweep Denver this weekend. North Dakota currently sits between Western Michigan and Denver in the standings. Western Michigan will travel to North Dakota to face off with the Fighting Hawks on February 25th and 26th.
Bowling Green Falcons (14-3-3, 11-10-1-2 CCHA)
The Falcons took the trip way up north to Michigan Tech last weekend. Coming off a tough sweep at the hands of #1 Minnesota State, Bowling Green was looking to get back into the win column on Friday night.
Michigan Tech came out and dominated the first period on Friday night, tallying three goals and holding the Falcons scoreless. The second period didn’t get off to a much better start, with Sam Craggs being ejected for a hit from behind just over a minute in. Despite their best efforts, Bowling Green would not manage to find the back of the net at all on Friday night and lost 4-0 to the Huskies.
Saturday night didn’t get off to a great start for the Falcons either. Michigan Tech scored the first goal and the Bowling Green faithful started to brace themselves for another tough night. History would not repeat itself, though, and the Falcons were able to respond with a goal to tie it up. The Huskies did not take long to regain the lead, scoring just 27 seconds later to take the 2-1 lead into the first intermission. From here on out it was all about the Falcons. Evan Dougherty scored to tie it up half way through the second period. Ryan O’Hara scored what would be the game winner about eight minutes into the third and Coale Norris added an insurance goal to give the Falcons a 4-2 win.
Next up for Bowling Green is a home series with Northern Michigan (15-13-1). The Falcons are currently sitting in fourth place in the CCHA, but at this point in the year Minnesota State has run away with the league standings. The Mavericks hold a seven point lead over second place Michigan Tech and a whopping 23-point lead over the Falcons.
Miami RedHawks (6-20-2, 3-14-1 NCHC)
It’s been a rough year for the RedHawks, but they’re still playing hard. That effort was certainly on display this weekend, as they took on Omaha for a two-game series in front of their home fans.
Friday night’s game was back and forth right from the start. Omaha scored first on the power play less than four minutes into the first period. Miami fired right back with a goal of their own just under 30 seconds later. The second period featured each team trading a pair of goals, so we headed to the third period tied up at 3-3. Omaha broke the tie early in the third, but Miami charged back with another pair of goals to take the 5-4 win.
Saturday night’s game started with bang as RedHawk PJ Fletcher found the back of the net less than a minute in. Omaha scored on the power play later in the first, but Miami responded yet again to take the 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Ryan Savage scored for the RedHawks just two minutes into the second period and gave Miami a lead they would not relinquish.
This was Miami’s first sweep of the season. The RedHawks have had Omaha’s number all year with all three of their NCHC regulation wins coming at the expense of the Mavericks. Next up for Miami is a trip out to Colorado College. The Tigers are also having a rough go of it this season and sit at 7-18-3 on the year. Miami is in last place in the NCHC currently, but Colorado College sits just one place (and most importantly just two points) ahead. A strong weekend could get the RedHawks out of last place in the conference.