KALAMAZOO, Mich. —The Western Michigan Broncos were outshot 55-16, had 13 penalties to kill, and only a few quality scoring chances, but somehow managed to leave the ice with a 4-1 victory over Notre Dame.
Derek Roehl opened the scoring when he poked a loose puck past Mike Johnson to put the Broncos up 1-0 with 13:11 to play in the first period.
Just over three minutes later, the Broncos converted on a power play opportunity when Tyler Ludwig blasted a slap shot past Johnson’s glove.
Notre Dame was piling on the shots and the scoring chances, but Riley Gill stayed strong all night long. Gill made fantastic saves throughout the game to keep the Broncos in it.
“That was probably the best goaltending I’ve ever seen here at Lawson Ice Arena,” said the Broncos’ head coach Jim Culhane.
Roehl netted his second goal of the night when he re-directed a Matt Tennyson snap shot past Johnson for his second of the night. Roehl’s goal was the second power play goal in a row for the Broncos.
The third goal for the Broncos prompted Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson to pull Johnson in favor of Tom O’Brien. Johnson allowed three goals on nine shots through just over 20 minutes of play.
Notre Dame kept up the pressure, pacing the game the entire night. On a four-on-four, Brett Blatchford snapped a quick wrister past Gill’s glove to put the Irish on the board. Teddy Ruth and Dan Kissel had the assists. The Fighting Irish were fighting to keep the game alive but they could not find an open seam in the Broncos’ penalty kill.
The Broncos had a stretch where they were called for eight penalties in a row, and killed them all off. However, Western Michigan did not allow a power play goal on the night in 13 chances.
“Our Penalty kill was really good tonight,” said Culhane. We were blocking shots and clearing rebounds. We were getting some clears and that was huge because it’s been problem for us in the past.”
At 13:58 to go in the game, Roehl completed the hat trick with another power play goal for the Broncos. Max Campbell took a slap shot that rattled around in the scrum when Roehl found the puck and poked it past O’Brien.
“It was a great feeling,” Roehl said of the hat trick. “It was the first one of my career. It wasn’t the prettiest one but we’ll take it.”
The Broncos took advantage of every power play opportunity. Western Michigan was 3-3 on the night as they made the most of their 16 shots.
Next weekend, the Broncos hit the road to play Northern Michigan. Notre Dame is idle but plays Bowling Green February 19th and 20th.