Western Michigan certainly wanted the win over Northeastern in the Shillelagh Tournament in South Bend on Friday, but they fell to Northeastern and had to play UAH in the consolation game on Saturday. I’m willing to bet you that more fans watched that game on the Internet than did inside the Compton Family Ice Arena, and what they saw was a team of Chargers working their butts off to get their first win. It didn’t come, though, as the Broncos eked out a 1-0 win.
Chase Balisy and Shane Berschbach had to have a little jump in their step as they came to the rink on Saturday morning. After all, they were part of a Western Michigan team that railroaded the Chargers in 2011-12. Balisy was 1-4—5 on the weekend, and Berschbach was 3-1—4. “That team we played two years ago? They canceled that program? They’re 0-13-0?” Sure, you respect your opponent, but …
… but Berschbach only got off two shots, and Balisy didn’t find the net at all, either. In fact, the Chargers allowed only 29 SOG, the lowest non-conference mark of the season and the fourth-lowest of the year (26 and 24 vs. Bemidji, 28 at Anchorage on Saturday night).
It was a gritty, hard-fought game, and it’s a shame that it was 1) at a neutral site for both teams and 2) up against the Iron Bowl here in Alabama. But those of us who watched it know the following:
- The only goal came on Western’s only power-play on the day, with Kyle Novak leaking out on the back side. Berschbach got the puck to him, and that was all she wrote as far as scoring.
- It was a great day for discipline for the Chargers, who went to the box just twice, with Brandon Carlson’s hooking call coincidental to a diving minor.
- The power play was powerless for the Chargers tonight, but they drove the puck hard.
- The effort was there all game long, even if it wasn’t always coherent. One thing that I consistently noticed during the game that the Broncos had a hard time breaking through the neutral zone with passes. They could do it with one guy finding seams, but tic-tac-turnover was more like it. That wasn’t the only great effort, either: the forecheck was strong today.
- Frank Slubowski — who got a shutout in the Saturday night game against UAH in 2011 — was solid in goal. He is the reason that the Broncos won that game.
- Carmine Guerriero was sharp. He couldn’t do much about Novak’s goal, and he stopped the rest. He is the reason that the Chargers could’ve come back to win that game.
My three stars: Slubowski, Guerriero, Novak.
The boys will bus back to Huntsville tonight to finish up final exams before heading back north to Ohio, where they’ll face the Falcons of Bowling Green State University in a WCHA tilt. The Falcons are 5-1-1 at home this season.