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Hafner made 31 saves in the win.
Courtesy: Brett Beier

Broncos Tame Bulldogs; Take 1-0 Series Lead

Courtesy: Adam Bodnar, assistant director of media relations
Release: 03/14/2014
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DULUTH, Minn. -- Lukas Hafner made 31 saves and three different Broncos scored as Western Michigan took a 1-0 series lead in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Quarterfinals against Minnesota-Duluth after a 3-2 win on Friday night at AMSOIL Arena.

WMU(18-14-4) carried a 3-0 lead into the final two minutes of the third period but UMD tallied two goals in the final minutes to push the score to 3-2. The Broncos were able to kill off the final 16 seconds.

Despite being outshot 33-22 the Broncos were able to shut down the Bulldogs in key moments including holding them to just one shot on goal during three scoreless power plays.

Sam Mellor gave the Broncos the 1-0 lead at 17:25 in the first period on a power play goal. Nolan LaPorte won the draw deep in the UMD zone and Jordan Oesterle played the puck to Mellor at the top of the right circle. The sophomore forward wound up and fired it into the net for his first goal of the season and first as a Bronco.

WMU put pressure on the Bulldogs through the first half of the 2nd period but UMD responded with a stretch towards the end of the period, peppering the Broncos with shots. Hafner made nine saves in the period to keep the lead going into the third period.

Just 25 seconds into the third period Colton Hargrove pushed the lead to 2-0 with his 11th goal of the season. LaPorte fired a shot on net and the rebound kicked off of two players and loose into the slot. Hargrove came in and fired the puck into the top-left corner of the net.

Will Kessel added an empty-net goal with 1:42 left in the third period from his own blue line for the game-winner after picking up a loose puck.

Cal Decowski redirected a centering pass behind Hafner with 1:30 left in the game to cut the lead to 3-1. Willie Corrin took the puck down the left side and centered out in front for Decowski.

At 19:44 Max Tardy banked in a shot off of Hafner from behind the goal to cut the lead to 3-2.

The teams square off again on Saturday at 8 p.m.