Hockey Heads to Duluth for Series with Bulldogs


After suffering its first loss since early December, Western Michigan will head to Duluth for a pair of games this weekend. The Bulldogs have won three straight games and have entered the mix in the national polls. They were receiving votes this week in both the DCU/USCHO and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.

Western Michigan split the weekend series with Omaha, dropping Saturday’s contest, 2-0.

It wasn’t for a lack of effort, as the Broncos peppered 40 shots at Mavericks goaltender Simon Latkoczy. He saved every shot that came his way, and Omaha made WMU pay for a couple penalties.

Both Maverick goals came on the power play, with Jonny Tychonick and Cameron Berg lighting the lamp in the second period. Cameron Rowe was solid in net for WMU, making 28 saves.

The Broncos came out firing in the opening minutes, immediately going to the power play and finding four shots on goal. Ryan McAllister fired one on net just as time expired on the man advantage as well.

As the game went on, WMU’s top line got involved, as Jason Polin had two of his six shots sent away by Latkoczy. Down the stretch, the Broncos would pull Rowe to try and manufacture some offense, but Omaha was able to halt the attack and preserve the shutout.

Western Michigan goalie Cameron Rowe has been excellent throughout the team’s last eight games, which helped him win NCHC Goalie of the Week on Jan. 23.

Over the last eight games, Rowe has earned a 7-1-0 record, while recording one shutout. He has allowed more than two goals just once in the stretch.

Further, Rowe has 194 saves, a 1.76 goals against average and a .933 save percentage in that eight-game stretch. That has helped elevate Western Michigan into the nation’s top 10.

It’s also helped Rowe improve his season numbers. On the year, he is up to a 16-9-1 record, 600 saves, 2.55 goals against average and a .901 save percentage. He has two shutouts this season.

A lot of the talk for this year’s Western Michigan team has been about the play of the first line, and rightfully so. It is the top scoring line in hockey, featuring three players with 30 or more points.

However, it’s been the play of the second, third and fourth lines that has helped take this WMU team to the next level. Over the last eight games, those lines have taken on more of a scoring role than the three Hobey Baker nominees on the first line.

It has started with Cole Gallant, Luke Grainger and Chad Hillebrand on the second line, where they have racked up a combined 33 points over the last eight games. Gallant has three goals and nine assists, Grainger has added four goals and seven assists and Hillebrand has tallied four goals and six assists.

It’s been then Tim Wash and Jack Perbix making an impact, as those two have burst onto the scene as of late to give the Broncos a spark. Washe has recorded five goals and two assists over the last eight games, while Perbix has two goals and five assists.

Finally, it would be hard to miss the duo of Hugh Larkin and Dylan Wednt and the way they’ve worked together on the third line. Wendt has been a passing machine of late, racking up five assists, while adding one goal in the last eight games. Larkin has played in seven of those eight games, scoring three goals and handing out two assists.


– THE SERIES: Duluth leads the all-time series 27-15-3, which includes a split at Lawson back in November. Duluth won the opener, 5-4, before the Broncos were able to take the final game of the series, 5-3.

– SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: The Bulldogs enter having won three straight games, including a sweep last weekend against then No. 1 St. Cloud State. Duluth is now receiving votes in the national polls.

Individually, it all starts with Ben Steeves, who leads the team with 16 goals. He has also added four assists. Dominic James, Quinn Olson and Derek Daschke are the other three main pieces, with all having 15 points or more this season.

Quinn leads the team in assists with 14, Daschke has 13 assists and James has 10 assists to go along with eight goals.

The Western goaltenders better be ready, as the Bulldogs have one of the highest shot rates in the conference, firing just over 30 shots on goal per game. However, if there’s one place WMU can attack it on the power play.

Duluth is second in the league in penalties committed on a per game basis and is a middle of the pack team in terms of killing off those penalties.

Western Michigan will be off next weekend before hosting Colorado College the weekend of Feb. 17-18. The Broncos swept the Tigers in Colorado Springs a few weeks ago.

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