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Courtesy: WMU

Bronco Hockey Welcomes Nebraska-Omaha for Ice Duchenne Weekend

Courtesy: WMU
Release: 02/19/2014
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Western Michigan (14-11-5, 8-8-2-2 NCHC)  vs. Nebraska-Omaha (12-14-2, 9-7-2-1 NCHC)
All-Time series ­— UNO leads 12-8-6
Feb. 21-22, 2014 // Lawson Ice Arena (3,667 seated)
Fri./Sat., 7:05 p.m. // Kalamazoo, Mich. // Bronco Insider

•  Both of WMU's games will be broadcast live on the Bronco Radio Network: 96.5 FM (Kalamazoo, Portage, Mattawan);

Both games will be broadcast on Bronco Insider. Please note a subscription is required.

For more information regarding Ice Duchenne please click on this link.

• Western Michigan went up to Colorado College and earned two points on the weekend. The Broncos fought off a 3-0 deficit on Friday to battle the Tigers to a 4-4 tie and earned the shootout win for the extra point. Nolan LaPorte, Will Kessel, Shane Berschbach and Thomas Nitsche all tallied goals in the tie. Justin Kovacs was the lone Bronco to light the lamp in the shootout, while Lukas Hafner made three stops.

On Saturday WMU fell 3-0 to CC. The two teams skated into the second intermission deadlocked at 0-0 but the Tigers potted three goals in the third period to earn the win.

• THE SERIES: UNO leads the all-time series 12-8-6 and also has a 6-4-4 edge in Kalamazoo. The last time the two teams met was Nov. 27-28, 2009 in Nebraska-Omaha’s final year in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

• THE CONNECTION: Legendary Maverick head coach Dean Blais coached WMU head coach Andy Murray’s son Brady for two seasons from 2003-05 at the University of North Dakota.

• SCOUTING THE MAVERICKS: Nebraska-Omaha comes to Western Michigan having earned points in each of its last four National Collegiate Hockey Conference series. Last weekend the Mavericks split at home against Denver and the week prior earned a tough split on the road at North Dakota. UNO is 4-3-1 during the stretch, which ended a four-game losing streak.

The Nebraska-Omaha offense, which ranks 15th in the nation at 3.23 goals per game, is led junior forward Josh Archibald. The Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick is one of the most prolific goal scorers in the country and his 23 goals has him tied for second in the nation. Fifteen of his goals have come in conference play and he currently leads the NCHC in points with 23 in 18 games. The Mavericks boast two other 10-plus goal scorers in Dominic Zombo and Brock Montpetit. Zombo is second on the team in goals with 13 and points with 25, while Montpetit is just behind him with 11 tallies and 24 points. Ryan Walters, who recorded 52 points last season, is second on the team with 19 assists. Freshman Jake Guentzel, also a Penguins draft pick, leads the team with 20 assists and his 18 points in conference play ranks him first among freshmen in the NCHC.

Despite the prolific offense the Mavericks have struggled defensively, ranking 49th in the nation and allowing 3.36 goals per game. The defense does tighten up a bit in conference play, where UNO allows just 2.94 and is tied for fourth in the NCHC. Ryan Massa and Kirk Thompson have split the majority of time in the net. Massa has started in 13 games with a 6-5-1 record, a .887 save percentage and a 3.01 goals against average. Thompson has started in 12 games with a 5-5-1 record, a .879 save percentage and a 3.05 goals against average. Massa’s numbers are much better in NCHC play, where he has a 2.39 goals against average, a .912 save percentage and 5-2-1 record.

UNO’s power play ranks 28th in the nation and converts goals at 18.4 percent (26-for-141). The numbers jump up to 20.7 percent in conference play and the Mavericks boast a league-best 17 power play goals. Archibald leads the squad with six power play goals, while Zombo and Walters each have five. Nebraska-Omaha’s penalty kill ranks 48th in the country at 78.6 percent (114-for-145) but boasts a league-best 88.8 percent in NCHC play. UNO has only given up nine power play goals during 80 power plays in NCHC play this year.

This weekend’s games against Nebraska-Omaha mark the 10th and 11th games against former CCHA members. WMU is 7-2-0 against its former conference brethren this season with four wins over Miami, two wins over Michigan State and win over Michigan. The only former CCHA team on WMU’s schedule to get the best of the Broncos was Notre Dame, who opened the 2013-14 season with a sweep of WMU.

•  For the fourth time this season Western Michigan has pulled its starting goalie during a game and earned points. Last Friday night Frank Slubowski was pulled during the second period  after WMU fell down 3-0 to Colorado College. Lukas Hafner was inserted and the Broncos rallied to earn a tie and a shootout win. WMU also earned points against Miami twice and St. Cloud State after pulling its starting goalie this season.