Western Herald – WMU hockey comes up short in Great Lakes Invitational championship game

WMU hockey comes up short in Great Lakes Invitational championship game

WMU goalie Frank Slubowski warms up for the GLI Championship game/Kenny Wenzel Western Herald

Kenny Wenzel
Sports Reporter

The No. 7/8 Western Michigan University Broncos were defeated, falling 4-0 to Michigan Tech University in the Great Lakes Invitational Championship at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich. on Sunday night.

The Broncos (11-5-2) outshot the Huskies (6-10-3) 32-22 but were unable to generate any offensive chances. MTU freshmen goalie, Pheonix Copley, blocked all 70 shots he faced this weekend in route to earning the GLI Most Valuable Player award.

“We’re obviously disappointed with the loss,” said WMU Head Coach Andy Murray. “Disappointed not with effort, or intensity, or desire, or passion and any of those things, but a failure to execute, a failure to put the puck in the net when we had opportunities. We give credit to their goalie, but we need to be better in that part of the game.”

WMU opened up in the first period with a lot of intensity, drawing two early penalties, but MTU quickly recovered and took over possession for the latter half of the frame. Dennis Rix opened up the scoring for the Huskies with 1:32 left in the first when Mikael Lickteig won a battle in the corner and fed Rix the puck who fired it over Bronco goalie Frank Slubowski’s shoulder.

In the second period, WMU kept firing the puck at Copley but could not light the lamp. The Broncos were controlling the tempo until freshmen Josh Pitt was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for contact to the head of a MTU player with 5:09 remaining.

MTU sophomore forward and Houghton, Mich. native, Blake Hietala gave the Huskies a 2-0 lead 3:23 into the third period when MTU executed a two-on-one flawlessly.

Hietala described how much winning the tournament to the community.

“It means a lot,” Hietala said. “We haven’t won [the GLI] in 32 years and it was one of our goals at the beginning of the season.”

The Huskies would add a late empty-net goal with 1:09 left in the contest putting them up 3-0. MTU would add a power play goal 48 seconds later after WMU sophomore Matt Stewart was given a five-minute major and a game disqualification for checking a MTU from behind, which resulted in an injury.

Slubowski finished the night with 17 saves, but also allowed three goals. WMU, coming into the GLI with the seventh best power play in the country, finished the weekend without a goal. The Broncos have only scored one goal in the last 175 minutes played.

One bright spot for the Broncos was that junior defensemen Danny DeKeyser and senior forward Mike Leone were named to the GLI All-Tournament team.

WMU will be on the road when they head to Bemidji, Minn. for a non-conference battle against the Bemidji State Beavers on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.

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