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Western Michigan Hits the Road to Meet Minnesota Duluth

Matt Christians

Who: Western Michigan at #5 Minnesota Duluth

Where: Amsoil Arena in Duluth, Minnesota

When: 7:07 pm CST both Friday and Saturday night

Television: Friday: My9 locally in Duluth. Saturday is Hockey Day Minnesota so obviously the Bulldogs won't be on Fox Sports North. Saturday's game will be on KBJR in Duluth. Both games are available through NCHC.tv($) for anyone outside of the Duluth area.

We'll have live coverage from Duluth for Saturday night's game as well.

Just looking at the standings, this appears to be a bit of a mismatch on paper. The Bulldogs are in second place in the league fighting for a league title. Western Michigan is in seventh place in the league with just a 2-6-2 record in league play with half of their wins/ties coming against winless Colorado College.

But after a rough start to the season, the Broncos have been surging since Thanksgiving. They're 6-1-1 in their last eight games, and averaging 3.85 goals per game in the stretch, while allowing just 1.85 goals per game. The Broncos struggled earlier in the season to replace the scoring of departed seniors Chase Balisy and Shane Berschbach, but forwards like Justin Kovacs and Colton Hargrove have stepped up to average a point-per-game over this recent eight-game stretch.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are back at home for the first time since early December. Their three-series road swing was capped by an intense and emotional series at North Dakota last weekend. After a strong start to the season, freshman goalie Kasimir Kaskisuo has struggled a bit in recent games. He's still at a respectable .917 save percentage for the season, but since December 5th, he's only stopping 89.8% of his shots, a number reminiscent of last year's goaltending woes for the Bulldogs.

Western Michigan has had success in Duluth too. They swept the Bulldogs last year at Amsoil in the NCHC playoffs to end Minnesota Duluth's season. With the two teams currently in position to meet in the playoffs again, albeit with much of the season still left to play, this series could help set a tone for the postseason.