Kalamazoo, MI (WKZO) – Nolan LaPorte’s shorthanded goal with eight seconds left was the difference as the Western Michigan Bronco hockey team came away with a 5-4 victory over the Miami (OH) RedHawks on Friday night at Lawson Arena.
The two former CCHA members and current National Collegiate Hockey Conference members battled in what was one of the more exciting games at Lawson in recent memory. The two rivals battled back and forth over sixty minutes in a game which featured five lead changes and four ties.
Chase Bailsey tallied three points, including the first of two shorthanded goals for the Broncos, who improved to 10-8-3 on the season and jumped from eighth in the NCHC to fifth place in the current standings.
After two weeks off, the Broncos came out strong in the first period, showing no rust from their time off. WMU outshot the RedHawks 19-5 in the first frame and took an early 1-0 lead after Colton Hargrove’s sixth goal of the season from Taylor Fleming and Balisy. However, the RedHawks scored just 41 seconds later and then took the lead 2-1 on Riley Barber’s power play goal 2:42 into the second period.
The Broncos tied the game at two when Mike Cichy found the back of the net for his first goal of the season in his 100th career game as a Bronco, 9:38 into the second. The RedHawks once again regained the lead just under three minutes later. The third goal by Miami also was the last shot Lukas Hafner would face in goal after allowing three goals on just 12 shots. He was replaced by Frank Slubowski who allowed just one goal on 13 shots, that coming in the third period, tying the game at four.
The Broncos and RedHawks faceoff again on Saturday night at Lawson Arena. Puck drops at 7pm.
GAME NOTES: This was the first victory for WMU when trailing after two periods. They had been 0-8-1…WMU outshot Miami 45-26…Jordan Oesterle had two assistants, while LaPorte was the only other Bronco to record two points…Ryan McKay made 40 saves in goal for Miami…Josh Pitt scored the fourth goal for the Broncos on the power play in the third period…WMU was 1-4 on the power player and killed off four of five power play chances.