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Courtesy: Joe Raymond-AP

Broncos and Fighting Irish Set For Second Place Battle

Courtesy: WMU
Release: 01/11/2012
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#10/11 Western Michigan (10-7-5 ) vs #3 Notre Dame (12-6-3)
Friday, Jan. 13,  7:35 p.m./Saturday, Jan. 14, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Friday: South Bend, Ind. - Compton Family Ice Center (5,022)
Saturday: Kalamazoo, Mich. - Lawson Ice Arena (3,667)
Radio: Friday/Saturday: 96.5 WKZO and
Television: Friday: CBS Sports Network, Saturday: Bronco Insider

Friday's game will be on CBS Sports Network. Charter: 224, Comcast: 255, DirecTV: 613, Dish Network: 152, AT&T U-Verse: 643(SD), 1643(HD). For others please contact your cable provider. (Note: for most cable packages CBS Sports Network is a part of a sports package).

As of Jan. 11, only standing room only tickets remain for Saturday's game.

Western Michigan fell twice to the defending national champions and No. 1 team in the nation, Minnesota Duluth. The Broncos and Bulldogs were tied going into the third period in both games but WMU was unable to capitalize to earn a win. On Friday UMD netted three goals in the final period to give them a  4-1 win after the Broncos took an early 1-0 lead in the first period. On Saturday WMU once again took a lead in the first period and then again in the second but the Bulldogs fired off three goals in the third period to sink the Broncos.

Western Michigan holds the lead in the all-time series with a 38-32-8 record against the Fighting Irish. The Broncos also hold a commanding 24-10-6 advantage at Lawson Ice Arena when they host the Fighting Irish. The two teams met up earlier this season with the Broncos falling at Notre Dame 3-2 in WMU’s first ever game at UND’s brand new Compton Family Ice Arena. The Broncos followed it up with a 2-2 tie and shootout win the following Tuesday in Kalamazoo.

Derek Roehl leads all Broncos with nine points on four goals and five assists in 10 career games against the Fighting Irish. Kyle O’Kane has five points (1,4) in eight career games and a plus-eight plus/minus rating. Chase Balisy has three career goals, including his first collegiate goal, against Notre Dame. Goalies Nick Pisellini and Frank Slubowski have nearly identical numbers against Notre Dame. Both are 0-1-1 and have a 2.41 goals against average, while Slubowski has the slight edge in save percentage at .894.

Notre Dame has been ranked fouth, second and now third when facing the Broncos this season. The Fighting Irish are currently on a three game winning streak with wins over Ferris State, Boston University and at Minnesota, averaging 4.33 goals per game in the wins.

The Fighting Irish have the 20th ranked offense in the nation, averaging 3.14 goals per game in 22 games this season. When breaking it down into just CCHA games their offensive production dips slightly at 2.93 per game, fourth in the CCHA. The offense features three 20-plus point scorers in T.J. Tynan, Anders Lee and Riley Sheahan. Tynan leads the team with 29 points on eight goals and 21 assists. The Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick’s 1.38 points per game ranks him seventh nationally, while Anders Lee sits slightly behind him with 22 points on 14 goals and eight assists. Lee, a New York Islander’s draft pick, is the only double-digit goal scorer on the team. Sheahan, a first round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, is having just one point shy of tying a career-high for points in a season at 21 on seven goals and 14 assists through 20 games this season. Sheahan is also one of the top defensive forwards in the league, using his large 6-foot-2, 205 pound frame to his advantage. Freshman Robbie Russo is the top scorer from the Notre Dame blue line with 12 points on three goals and nine assists this season.

Defensively the Fighting Irish are more middle of the road statistically, ranking 27th in the nation while giving up 2.73 goals per game. In CCHA play they have been better, giving up just 2.36 goals per game in 14 conference games. Junior Mike Johnson has seen the bulk of the minutes with 16 starts this season but sophomore Steven Summerhays has the better record at 6-1-0. Summerhays has won each of his last five starts, putting up a .934 save percentage and a  1.69 goals against average in those games.

Notre Dame’s power play has been dangerous this season, converting on 21.4 percent (24/122) of their chances. Tynan, Lee and Sheahan have combined for 14 of the team’s 24 power play goals this season. The penalty kill has also been solid, killing off 84.1 percent (69/82) of its disadvatages this season.

Western Michigan is only one of four programs in the nation to be ranked in the top 15 every week this season. WMU is joined by Minnesota-Duluth, Notre Dame and Boston College.

When the Western Michigan offense only scores two goals a game the outlook is not so good for the team. This season the Broncos are 1-6-3 when only netting two goals in a game. The lone win came on Dec. 30 at St. Cloud State in a 2-1 overtime win. WMU tied Union, Alaska and Notre Dame 2-2 this season with the Broncos winning both shootouts over the Nanooks and Fighting Irish.

Last season the Broncos were 3-5-5 when scoring two goals with wins over Union, Notre Dame and Alaska.

Western Michigan has now given up power play goals in each of the last four games, in which WMU is 1-3-0. In total the Broncos have given up six goals when down a man, or two, in the last four games. It’s the longest power-play goals against scoring streak this season. Last Friday was also the fourth time this season WMU has given up two power play goals. WMU is 0-3-1 in those games.


Future Bronco Mike McKee was recently ranked the 144th best skater in North America by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service in their mid-season rankings. McKee, a 6-foot-4 235 pound defenseman, plays for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. In 30 games this season he has one goal and eight assists and leads the league in penalty minutes at 91.