WMU News

Hockey Broncos host nationally ranked No. 11 Niagara

Feb. 16, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- The Western Michigan University hockey team encounters a ranked opponent for the fourth consecutive week when No. 11 Niagara University visits Lawson Arena this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 18-19, in non-conference action.

The Purple Eagles' 25 wins leads all of college hockey, as does their .803 winning percentage and 16-game unbeaten streak. Niagara also sports the nation's top defense (1.45 goals per game) and power play percentage (29.7%). Niagara brings a 25-5-3 season record to Lawson Arena.

This is the first meeting ever between the teams.

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>.

Scouting Report

Niagara is a charter member of College Hockey America, whose members include Air Force, Army, Bemidji State, Niagara, Wayne State, Alabama-Huntsville and Findlay. The Purple Eagles lead the CHA with a 15-0-2 record. Niagara added varsity hockey four seasons ago and is in its second year at the Division I level. NU has five players in double-figures for goals, led by Kyle Martin's 20 markers. Mike Isherwood is the team's leading scorer with 40 points (13-27). Goaltender Greg Gardner has started 32 games, posting a 1.44 goals-against average and .939 saves percentage (third-best nationally). Niagara's scoring margin of 2.61 (134 to 48) is the biggest in the country. Head Coach Blaise MacDonald owns a 73-36-11 record in his fourth season at NU.

Bronco Notes

The Broncos have struggled in the second half of the season, going 2-9-1 during the new year. A tough schedule certainly has not helped. Jim Culhane's club has played eight of its past 10 games away from home and six-straight against
nationally-ranked teams. WMU has also faced the CCHA's top three programs over the past three weeks.

David Gove has moved up to third in the CCHA overall scoring race with 38 points. He trails Michigan's Mike Comire and Shawn Horcoff of Michigan State by eight points. Gove took over the team's goal-scoring lead (15) last weekend and ranks 14th nationally in points (1.36 per game) and assists (0.82 per game).

Western Michigan's power play is one of the best in the nation, ranking 20th in the NCAA with a 19.7 percent success rate. WMU stands third in the CCHA after scoring five power play goals at Michigan. Special teams (37 PPG, 7 SHG) have
accounted for over half (53%) of WMU's goal production this season.

WMU has gone 4-1-1 in its past six games at Lawson Arena. The Broncos will play five of their last six games at home, a fortunate turn of events for Culhane's club which has lost 10 straight on the road dating to Nov. 26.

WMU holds a six-point lead and a tie-breaker advantage over Ohio State for the last spot in the 10-team CCHA Tournament field. Western is looking for its first post-season action in three seasons. If the playoffs were to start this week, the Broncos would travel to Michigan for a quarterfinals series.

Defenseman Ryan Crane returned to the lineup after a nine-game layoff caused by an ankle injury.

Looking Ahead

Western Michigan remains at home to host third-place Lake Superior State in a two-game CCHA series, Thursday and Friday, Feb. 24-25. The series, originally scheduled for Friday and Saturday, was shifted to accommodate Thursday, Feb. 24, television coverage on FOX Sports Net.

Media contact: Daniel Jankowski, 616 387-4122; daniel.jankowski@wmich.edu

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