Twenty-Six Years in the Making
March 17, 2012 09:35 PM
DETROIT - Western Michigan led, 3-0, after two periods and withstood a furious effort by Michigan in the third to win, 3-2, and capture the 2012 CCHA Championship.
Senior captain Ian Slater got Western Michigan on the scoreboard with 6:34 left in the first period. Bronco senior forward J.J. Crew fired a slapshot from the point that kicked hard off the pad of Michigan senior goalie Shawn Hunwick and right to Slater’s stick and he had little trouble depositing the disk in the back of the net.
The Broncos went up, 2-0, midway through the second period on a power-play tally by junior forward Dane Walters. The scoring sequence began with a great play by sophomore defenseman Dennis Brown, who kept the possession alive with a spin move at the blue line before finding Walters on the right dot. Walters passed to sophomore forward Chase Balisy, who put a shot on goal, leading to a scramble in front of Hunwick that ended with Walters finding the back of the net.
Western Michigan scored its final goal late in the second period thanks, in large part, to the effort of Walters. In a race for the puck behind the Michigan net, Walters beat his Michigan counterpart, forcing the puck in front to Shane Berschbach. The sophomore forward slid a touch pass to Balisy on the back post for the score.
The Western Michigan defense, led by freshman goalie Frank Slubowski, thwarted the Michigan attack for two periods, getting sticks in passing lanes and limiting the Wolverines second-chance opportunities.
The third period was highlighted by two five-minute major penalties – one on each squad. Michigan sophomore defenseman Jon Merrill got the gate for a knee-on-knee collision six minutes into the final stanza.
The Wolverines successfully killed off the major penalty while scoring a short-handed goal on a set of crafty dekes by Kevin Clare. The sophomore blueliner danced around a Bronco defenseman before roofing a backhand shot past Slubowski.
Slater then picked up a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a late hit on Michigan sophomore defenseman Mac Bennett. U-M took advantage of the power-play opportunity, cutting the deficit to 3-2. On the play, sophomore forward Luke Moffatt received a pass in the left corner and found junior defenseman Lee Moffie waiting on the back post for the score.
The Wolverines continued to pressure WMU down the stretch but failed to convert. Slubowski stopped 27 shots en-route to winning the tournament’s Bill Beagan Trophy for Most Valuable Player. Hunwick made 22 saves in the loss.