IN THIS WEEK
After their first loss since early December, Western Michigan will travel to Duluth for two games this weekend. The Bulldogs have won three straight games and entered the mix in the national polls. They received votes in both the DCU/USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls this week.
Western Michigan shared the weekend series with Omaha, losing the contest 0-2 on Saturday.
It wasn’t a lack of effort as the Broncos fired 40 shots at Mavericks goalie Simon Latkoczy. He saved every shot that came his way, and Omaha made WMU pay for a few penalties.
Both Maverick goals came on the power play, with Jonny Tychonick and Cameron Berg lighting the lamp in the second half. Cameron Rowe was solid at the net for WMU and made 28 saves.
The Broncos came out in the opening minutes, immediately went on the power play and found four shots on target. Ryan McAllister fired one at the net when time ran out on the man advantage too.
As the game went on, the top line of WMU became involved, as Jason Polline had sent two of his six shots away from Latkoczy. On the stretch, the Broncos would pull Rowe to try to induce an offense, but Omaha was able to stop the attack and sustain the shutout.
Goalie from western Michigan Cameron Rowe has been outstanding in the team’s last eight games, which helped him earn NCHC Goalie of the Week on January 23.
In the last eight games, Rowe has gone on to a 7-1-0 record while recording one shutout. He has allowed more than two goals only once in the stretch.
Additionally, in that eight-game streak, Rowe has 194 saves, 1.76 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. That helped propel Western Michigan into the top 10 in the nation.
It’s also helped Rowe improve his season numbers. Over the year, he has a 16-9-1 record, 600 saves, 2.55 goals against average and a .901 percent save. He has two shutouts this season.
PAY YOUR FEES
A lot of talk for this year’s West Michigan team rightly revolved around the front row game. It is the top scoring line in ice hockey, with three players having 30 or more points.
However, it was the second, third and fourth row play that helped take this WMU team to the next level. In the last eight games, those lines have taken on a bigger goalscoring role than Hobey Baker’s three front-row nominees.
It started with Cole Gallant, Luke Gringer and Chad Hillebrand in the second row, where they have accumulated 33 points in the last eight games. Gallant has three goals and nine assists, Grainger has added four goals and seven assists, and Hillebrand has four goals and six assists.
It was then Tim Was and Jack Perbix Making an impact as these two have stormed onto the scene lately to give the Broncos a spark. Washe has five goals and two assists in their last eight games, while Perbix has two goals and five assists.
Finally, it would be hard to overlook the duo of Hugh Larkin and Dylan Wednt and the way they worked together on the third line. Wendt has been a passing machine of late, accumulating five assists while scoring one goal in his last eight games. Larkin has featured in seven of those eight games, scoring three goals and providing two assists.
THE MINNESOTA DULUTH BULLDOGS | 12-13-1 overall, 7-9-0 NCHC
– THE SERIES: Duluth leads the all-time streak 27-15-3, which includes a breakup at Lawson in November. Duluth won the opener 5-4 before the Broncos won the final game of the series 5-3.
– RECOGNIZING THE BULLDOGS: The Bulldogs come into play after winning three straight games, including a sweep last weekend against then-No. 1 St. Cloud State. Duluth is now getting votes in the national polls.
Individually, it all starts with Ben Steeves leading the team with 16 goals. He also added four assists. Dominic James, Quinn Olson and Derek Daschke are the other three main characters who all have 15 points or more this season.
Quinn leads the team with 14 assists, Daschke with 13 assists, and James with 10 assists and eight goals.
The western goaltenders better be ready as the Bulldogs have one of the higher shooting rates in the conference, shooting just over 30 shots per game. However, if there’s one place WMU can attack, it’s on the power play.
Duluth is second in the league in penalties awarded per game and sits in the middle of the pack team when it comes to repelling those penalties.
AT THE HORIZON
Western Michigan will have next weekend off before Colorado College hosts the weekend of February 17-18. The Broncos defeated the Tigers in Colorado Springs a few weeks ago.