Feb. 9, 2000
KALAMAZOO -- The schedule doesn't get any easier for Western Michigan's hockey team, in the middle of an eight-game stretch against nationally-ranked teams. The Broncos face league leader Michigan this Friday and Saturday (Feb. 11-12) at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. Friday's contest starts at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday's tilt at 7 p.m.
The Wolverines currently reside atop the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings while Western Michigan occupies ninth place. Michigan is ranked sixth nationally in this week's U.S. College Hockey Online Poll.
Bronco hockey can be heard on the Bronco Radio Network (Flagship station WFAT-96.5 FM Kalamazoo), and via broadcast.com on the Bronco Web site <www.wmubroncos.com>. Friday's contest is being carried live by FOX Sports Net.
The Wolverines hold a precarious one-point lead over Northern Michigan for the top spot in the CCHA standings. Mike Comrie, one of the league's top players, has carried the scoring load (14-27-41) for the Wolverines along with Jeff Jillson (6-22-28). Four additional UM players have 20 or more points. Josh Blackburn is 7-1-1 since returning from an off-season foot injury. Backup L.J. Scarpace has posted excellent numbers (5-2-0, 1.85 gga) and could possibly face his old teammates. Scarpace was a Bronco from 1996-98.
Michigan captured last year's series, 1-0-2. Three of the last four games in the series have gone into overtime. Michigan leads all-time, 40-22-9.
The Broncos will attempt to shake their road woes this weekend at Michigan. Jim Culhane's club has lost eight straight road games, with its last win occurring Nov. 26 at Dartmouth. WMU started the season 3-0 on the road and has gone 1-10-1 since. The good news for WMU: five of its last six games will be played in Lawson Arena.
Mike Bishai can relate with St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner. A year ago, Bishai had two assists and was being scratched from the lineup for the first time. Fast forward a year later and Bishai's 14 goals ranks fifth-best among CCHA players, with his 10 power play tallies topping the league charts. He is second in team scoring (14-22-26), 10th overall in the CCHA.
In preseason camp, David Gove stated his personal goal was to become a top-10 scorer in the CCHA. Gove's directive was quite a challenge considering he finished 38th in league scoring in 1998-99. This year, however, Gove has lived up to his promise, standing fourth in CCHA overall scoring with 34 points (12-22). He is third in league assists (22) and is the top scoring junior in the league.
As bargains go, goaltender Jeff Reynaert was a steal for the Broncos. In 1997 Reynaert was one of the top goaltenders in the North American Junior Hockey League, playing for the Compuware Ambassadors. Although the Broncos didn't have a full ride to offer Reynaert, he still committed to WMU. The move has paid dividends for WMU. Reynaert recently made 52 saves at Notre Dame (Jan. 21) third-best in school history and allowed just two even-strength goals to go along with a .940 saves percentage in a two-game series versus seventh-ranked Michigan State (Jan. 28-29). He is now a full scholarship recipient.
The Broncos were swept last week (Feb. 4-5) at Northern Michigan by the scores of 6-3 and 7-1. The seven goals on Saturday were the most WMU has allowed all season.
WMU has been outshot in its past eight consecutive games.
Sophomore defenseman Ryan Crane is expected back in the lineup this weekend after missing eight games with an ankle injury.
This year's freshman class (which averages 20 years of age) has scored 17 goals in 26 games compared to last year's frosh group which generated five goals in 34 contests.
Media contact: Daniel Jankowski, 616 387-4122; firstname.lastname@example.org
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