Broncos Score Four in Third Period to Down UNO, 5-3
Chase Balisy, Shane Berschbach and Nolan LaPorte each had three-point nights with a goal and two assists a piece, while Justin Kovacs each had a goal and an assist in the comeback effort.
LaPorte netted a power play goal at 11:05 in the third period after WMU entered the period trailing 3-1, to bring the Broncos (15-12-5, 9-9-2-2 NCHC) within one. Balisy rung the puck around the boards to Dennis Brown on the right point and the senior defenseman found LaPorte open at the top of the right circle. LaPorte skated to the middle of the circle and fired it past UNO goalie Ryan Massa for his 10th of the season.
Just 1:17 later Colton Hargrove tied the game up 3-3 after driving to the slot and beating Massa for his eighth of the season. LaPorte hit him in transition after picking up the puck from Josh Pitt. The assist was LaPorte’s 10th of the season and ninth for Pitt.
After winning a draw in the WMU defensive zone Berschbach lifted the puck down the ice and Kovacs tipped it into the left corner of the Maverick offensive zone. Kovacs outmuscled Nebraska-Omaha’s 6-foot-6 defenseman Jaycob Menga in the corner and centered it to Balisy. The senior captain shelfed the puck over Massa’s shoulder for the game-winner and his eighth of the season.
With a 4-3 lead late in the period the Broncos won a faceoff in their zone after UNO pulled their goalie. LaPorte chipped it out of the zone to Balisy and he found Berschbach just beyond the Maverick blue-line. Berschbach fired it into the empty net for his team-leading 14th goal of the season, putting the game away at 5-3.
Nebraska-Omaha was first to draw blood with Josh Archibald netting his first of two goals on the night at 3:08 in the second period. Brian Cooper fired a shot on Frank Slubowski with the WMU goalie making the save. The rebound popped out into the slot and the National College Hockey Conference’s leading scorer punched it into the net for his 25th of the season.
Just 37 seconds later after a Maverick was let out of the penalty box to start a UNO power play freshman defenseman Taylor Fleming sprung Kovacs on a breakaway. The junior forward fired it on net with Massa getting a piece of it but it trickled past the goal line and into the net to tie it up 1-1.
Archibald added his second of the night at 10:07 in the second period during a five-on-three power play. Dominic Zombo brought the puck into the WMU zone in transition and Archibald was all alone in the right circle to bury his 26th of the season.
WMU then had to kill off over four minutes of a major penalty after Jordan Oesterle was given a game misconduct for checking from behind. The Broncos were able to limit UNO’s chances and keep them off the board for the entire time.
Tanner Lane pushed the Nebraska-Omaha lead to 3-1 after he blocked a shot by Kenney Morrison and skated in for a breakaway-goal.
Western Michigan was outshot 28-25 on the night wight eight of UNO’s shots coming on seven power plays. The Bronco power play went 1-for-6 on the night after being held scoreless on eight last night.
WMU hosts Denver next Friday and Saturday for its final regular season home games. Saturday night the Broncos will take time to celebrate the senior class of Balisy, Berschbach, Brown and Mike Cichy.