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WMU Heads to the West Regional Semifinal

Courtesy: WMU
Release: 03/22/2012
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#12 (4) Western Michigan (21-13-6) vs #4 (1) North Dakota (25-13-3)
Saturday, March 24, 1:35 p.m.
Where: St. Paul, Minn./Excel Engery Center
Radio: 96.5 WKZO and
Television:, CW7 (Kalamazoo Area), FSN North

WESTERN MICHIGAN: The Broncos (21-13-5) earned a first round bye and home ice advantage in the CCHA Quarterfinals after finishing in a tie for second place in the regular season.  The then defeated Lake Superior State in two games, 4-2 and 5-2, to advance to the CCHA Semifinals for the second straight season. The Broncos defeated Miami in a 6-2 route to advance to the CCHA Finals once again for the second straight year. WMU completed the CCHA Playoff sweep by beating Michigan 3-2 in the CCHA Tournament Finals to win the program’s second ever Mason Cup. Western Michigan was then assigned a four seed, 11th overall, in the NCAA Tournament.

NORTH DAKOTA: North Dakota (25-13-4, 16-11-1 WCHA) finished the regular season in fourth place in the WCHA. UND went on to sweep Bemidji State to advance to the WCHA Final Five. At the Final Five North Dakota defeated St. Cloud State 4-1, Minnesota 6-3 and then Denver 4-0 in the WCHA Broadmoor Trophy Championship game. UND was assigned a No. 1 seed, fourth overall, and assigned to the West Regional.

This will be just the fifth meeting between the future NCHC rivals. North Dakota holds the all-time series lead 4-0-0. The two teams have not played since Jan. 2 and 3, 1998. UND swept WMU in Grand Forks. The previous season the Broncos were swept at home.

North Dakota enters the West Region as a No. 1 seed and the fourth overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. UND has won its last seven games, scoring four or more goals in six of the seven. During the streak they have been scoring at a rate of 4.14 goals per game to raise their overall season scoring average to 3.25, which is tied for 10th in the nation.

Leading the offensive assault for North Dakota is Brock Nelson, a 6-foot-4 192-pound first round draft pick of the New York Islanders. The sophomore forward has racked up 44 points on a team-leading 27 goals and 17 assists. Just behind him is junior forward Danny Kristo. Kristo, a second round pick by the Montreal Canadiens, leads the team with 25 assists and has 18 goals for 43 total points. Ben Blood is the top point man from the blue line with 20 points on three goals and 17 assists, although freshman Nick Mattson has lit the lamp six times from the blue line.

Helping boost their offensive production is a power play ranked ninth in the nation. North Dakota is converting power plays at 22.6% and has netted 40 total with the man advantage. Blood has lit the lamp 10 times on the power play to lead the team, while Carter Rowney has netted half of his 18 goals with opponents down a man.

Defensively North Dakota ranks in at 15th in the nation, allowing 2.55 goals per game. Junior Aaron Dell, fresh off a 22 save shutout performance in the WCHA Broadmoor Championship game, was named MVP of the WCHA Playoffs and has seen the bulk of the minutes in net. Dell boasts a 17-9-2 record with a 2.64 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. The North Dakota penalty kill ranks 36th in the nation, killing off 80.9 percent of the power plays they face.

• WMU is 0-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
• This is the first time in program history that Western Michigan has gone to the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons.
• WMU is 0-2 all-time versus schools from the WCHA in the NCAA Tournament. The losses loss came last season to Denver in double overtime and in 1994 against Wisconsin.
Trevor Elias is the last Bronco to score a goal in the NCAA Tournament, lighting the lamp at the 3:32 mark in the third period last season.
• This is WMU’s first time playing in the West Regional. WMU has been in the East Regional three times and was in the Midwest Regional last season.

2011 - 1st Round vs Denver - 2-3 L, 2OT (Green Bay, Wis.)
1996 - 1st Round vs Clarkston - 1-6 L (Albany, N.Y.)
1994 - 1st Round vs Wisconsin - 3-6 L (Albany, N.Y.)
1986 - 1st Round vs Harvard, 2-4 L, 2-7 L (Cambridge, Mass., best of 2 series)

During their post season run the Broncos have trailed opponents for just 6 minutes and 32 seconds. That all came in their first playoff game against Lake Superior State.  Colin Campbell netted a goal at 3:13 in the first period to give the Lakers a 1-0 lead. Dane Walters netted a power play goal just 6:24 later at 9:45 in the period and the Broncos have never trailed since. In three of the four games this postseason the Broncos have scored first. On the season they are 19-6-2 when they tally first.

Western Michigan’s power play at the end of the regular season had converted 18.8 percent of its chances for 29 goals. The Broncos have turned in on during their four post season games, tallying seven goals in 19 chances for 36.8 percent. They have netted power play goals in each of the four games, including two in their 5-2 win over Lake Superior State and three in their 6-2 win in the CCHA Semifinals over Miami. The power play has produced nearly half of their 18 post season goals. Matt Tennyson and Dane Walters each have two with the man advantage.

WMU’s postseason penalty kill has also been stellar, allowing just one goal in 16 chances. WMU has only allowed 12 total shots on goal in 16 chances. The lone power play goal surrendered by the Broncos came against Michigan during a five minute major power play.

During its four playoff games the Broncos have held opponents to just two goals in each game. On the season WMU is 9-1-3 when holding its opponents to just two goals. All 21 of Western Michigan’s wins have come when it has held its opponents to two goals or less.


WMU’s game with North Dakota will be the sixth this season against a future National Collegiate Hockey Conference opponent. The Broncos are 2-3-0 versus future conference rivals, going 1-2-0 against Miami and splitting with St. Cloud State.