From the Detroit Free Press
The Western Michigan hockey team has a lot to be excited about as it enters the Great Lakes Invitational for the first time since 1986.
The No. 7 Broncos are the only school from Michigan ranked nationally in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine men's college hockey poll. And the Broncos (11-4-1) are also the only team in this year's GLI with a winning record.
They will face Michigan State (5-10-2) at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the early semifinal at Joe Louis Arena. Michigan (6-9-2) will face Michigan Tech (4-10-3) in the second game.
Western Michigan head coach Andy Murray is pleased with his team's performance over the first half. He doesn't care much about regular-season rankings.
"We're just trying to win the next game we play," Murray said. "That happens to be against Michigan State."
The Broncos haven't played since splitting a weekend series at Michigan two weeks ago.
"We're sitting third in the CCHA, four points behind Miami (Ohio) with two games in hand," Murray said. "We've played a lot of road games, so I think overall it's kind of like our series against Michigan.
"We've done some good things, but we think there's a lot of room for improvement. Certainly we feel we need to be better. We were not good enough to win both games at Michigan. I can't just pick one or two areas. We just need to be better, and there's a lot of teams that would trade positions with us in our league right now."
The Broncos have allowed 32 goals in 16 games, one of 10 teams that average two goals allowed or fewer nationally. They average 10.2 penalty minutes a game, lowest in the CCHA.
The power play is tied for seventh nationally with Ferris State at 22.2%.
"I can't tell you they out-skill you any more than any other teams," Michigan coach Red Berenson said of the Broncos. "You look at teams around our league ... when you look at Notre Dame and Miami, they're having good years and then Western....a lot of it is will and a lot of it is goalkeeping.
"They don't play stupid tough. There have been teams at Western in the past that played tough but were over the line and it cost them. This team is really well-coached and obviously the team has got the message that that's how they have to play to have success, and that's why they're the best team going into this particular tournament right now. They're the favored team. They've got the best record."
Murray said his team has much more room to improve, especially when it comes to playing 5-on-5 and playing better in the second period.
Chase Balisy, Shane Berschbach and Dane Walters combined for 39 goals, 59 assists and 98 points last season for Western.
The trio have combined for 15 goals, 18 assists and 33 points this season. Eight of their 15 goals have come on the power play.
"It's not like we don't have the players that can score 5-on-5," Balisy said. "It's all going to come together. Everyone just has to keep bearing down around the net. We're still getting chances. We're going to score goals, it's just going to take a lot of hard work and getting to the gritty areas."
Murray said players need to shoot more.
"We've got certain players that have yet to find their offensive groove. That's one thing that gives us optimism going forward," he said.
Campus Location: East Lansing, Michigan
38th GLI Tournament Appearance
GLI Championships Won: 12, last won in 2009
Coach: Tom Anastos
|6||Brandon Carney||Defense||Freshman (Redshirted)|
|8||Chris Forfar (A)||Forward||Senior|
|21||Anthony Hayes (A)||Forward||Senior|
|23||Matt Grassi (A)||Defense||Senior|
|24||Justin Hoomaian||Forward||Freshman (Redshirted)|
|86||Greg Wolfe ©||Forward||Junior|
From US College Hockey Online
Michigan State (5-10-2, 4-8-1-0 CCHA) looks like a team that’s rebuilding this year, with young talent that needs to mature. The Spartans are in ninth place in the CCHA with 13 points and finished the first half on a high note, a 3-1 win over Ferris State that stopped a six-game winless streak and five-game losing streak. Another team struggling with offense, the Spartans are down 25 goals from where they were a year ago. Sophomore Matt Berry (9-7–16) leads MSU in scoring, followed by classmate Brent Darnell (5-8–13). Both players are on pace to exceed their goal output from their rookie seasons; Berry scored 11 goals in 37 games in 2011-12, Darnell six in 36. Freshman Jake Hildebrand (1.81 GAA, .941 SV%) has played in 10 of MSU’s games this season. The Spartans last captured the GLI title in 2009 and have won 12 total.
Campus Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan
3rd GLI Tournament Appearance, last appearing in 1986
GLI Championships Won: 1, last won in 1986
Coach: Andy Murray
|2||Mike Leone||Forward||Senior (Redshirted)|
|5||Dan DeKeyser ©||Defense||Junior|
|23||Dane Walters ©||Forward||Senior|
|25||Mike Cichy||Forward||Junior (Redshirted)|
|27||Ben Warda||Forward||Senior (Redshirted)|
|28||Luke Witkowski ©||Defense||Senior|
Also from USCHO
This year, WMU is clearly the favorite in the field. The No. 8 Broncos (11-4-1, 8-3-1-1 CCHA) are currently in second place in the CCHA with 26 points, four points behind the two teams tied for first place, Miami and Notre Dame. The Broncos had their six-game win streak snapped in the last game they played in the first half, a 2-0 loss to Michigan Dec. 15. Sophomore Frank Slubowski (1.98 GAA, .918 SV%) has been the goalie of record in all 16 of WMU’s games this season. Three of WMU’s leading scorers are defensemen: Kenney Morrison (4-6–10), Dennis Brown (0-9–9) and Danny DeKeyser (2-6–8). The Broncos are knotted for seventh in the nation with three other teams in scoring defense, allowing 2.00 goals per game. WMU’s scoring, however, is 42nd in the nation (2.38 goals per game). The Broncos captured the GLI championship in 1986 in their second tournament appearance.
This point has been edited by Erik C.: 28 December 2012 - 07:12 PM