Western Michigan pulled off an upset of #1-ranked Minnesota Duluth in Duluth thanks to two goals from sophomore Colt Conrad, including the game-winning goal with just 30.6 seconds left.
The game started as a fast-paced, high-scoring affair with each team scoring three times in the first period. The Bulldogs built a 3-1 thanks to goals from Alex Iafallo, Joey Anderson, and Parker Mackay. But the Broncos answered back late in the period with goals by Matheson Iacopelli, and Colt Conrad’s first of the game with just 3.1 seconds remaining in the period.
From there, the game slowed down a bit with neither team scoring in the second frame, and appearing that neither team would score in the third period. But in the final minute of regulation, Conrad found a loose puck in the slot that he was able to bat past UMD goalie Hunter Miska to score the game-winning goal.
The Broncos move to 6-2-1 on the season with the upset win, and Minnesota Duluth falls to 7-2-2. The two teams will meet for the second game of their series
Notes and Thoughts:
-I wanted to see Western Michigan play in person this year, because I knew their roster was better, and early results suggested they were better than last season. They definitely pass the eyeball test. They went toe-to-toe against what I still believe is the best team in the country, and controlled large chunks of this game. They’re a much-improved team and I think they could surprise some people this year.
They lack some depth as you move down the line chart, and their power play wasn’t very impressive, but I could see them finishing the year on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.
-The Broncos got off to a great start, dominating the first ten minutes. When they’re at their best, they can really punish teams with their ability to grind and cycle in the offensive zone, similar to what UMD can do to teams.
-UMD’s answer back after the early Western Michigan goal was equally impressive. They strung together three goals in less than five minutes thanks to some really smart, crafty plays by veteran players. There’s just so many ways they can hurt the opposition offensively. I think they had some bad luck tonight with two loose pucks landing on Conrad’s stick in great position at the worst possible moment. Like the NTDP exhibition game I was here for a few weeks ago, the result is bad, but otherwise, I didn’t see any signs for concern from the Bulldogs.
-Colt Conrad’s game-winning goal, was a little bit of luck, with a bouncing puck finding him in position to shoot, but that line had a couple long stretches of possession in the UMD zone throughout the third period, including that final shift. For that one good bounce they got, they had four or five similar chances not go their way.
-Western Michigan’s Aidan Muir left the game in the mid-first period after falling on a UMD player’s skate, and appearing to cut his wrist. Play was stopped and Muir immediately skated across the ice to the locker room and did not return. There hasn’t been much update on Muir’s condition, other than that he definitely will not play tomorrow.
Shots on goal: UMD: 8-10-6-23 WMU: 12-7-4-23
Even strength shot attempts: UMD: 17-10-9-36 WMU: 15-16-9-40
Prime scoring area attempts: UMD: 8-6-6-20 WMU: 6-5-3-14
What do the numbers tell us?
Overall a pretty even, back-and-forth game. The game really slowed down after a high-scoring first period as it became tougher for each team to work the puck into good scoring positions.
7:53 Aidan Muir from Matheson Iacopelli and Frederik Tiffels (power play) 1-0 Western Michigan
Iacopelli brought the puck into the UMD zone on the rush down the left wing. He flipped a pass into the slot that Muir redirected past Miska
10:48 Alex Iafallo from Joey Anderson and Carson Soucy 1-1 tie
Anderson flipped a soft pass into the slot, allowing a WMU defender to get a body on Iafallo. But with a quick stick, Iafallo was able to win the puck, free himself, and fire a quick shot that beat Gorsuch low to the stick side.
14:23 Joey Anderson from Dominic Toninato and Nick Wolff 2-1 Minnesota Duluth
Wolff held a puck in the zone at the left point and took a quick shot that went wide to the right corner. Toninato picked up the loose puck and quickly cycled it out to Anderson at the right dot, and his quick, low shot beat Gorsuch
15:32 Parker Mackay from Jared Thomas 3-1 Minnesota Duluth
Thomas won a face-off at the right face-off circle to Mackay along the right boards. Mackay took a poor angle shot from the low half boards, and with Gorsuch cheating off his post to cover a Bulldog in front, the shot slipped through him.
16:50 Matheson Iacopelli from Sheldon Dries and Taylor Fleming 3-2 Minnesota Duluth
The puck popped loose out of a scrum along the right boards near the top of the circle. Iacopelli out-muscled a UMD defender to get a clear look at the net, and he rifled a wrist shot past Miska for the goal.
19:56 Colt Conrad unassisted 3-3 tie
A quick turnover in the UMD zone popped onto Conrad’s stick and he took a quick snap shot from the mid-slot to beat Miska.
19:29 Colt Conrad from Frederik Tiffels and Wade Allison 4-3 Western Michigan
A number of players were batting at a bouncing puck in the UMD slot. The puck bounced to Conrad at the right hash, and he quickly slapped the puck into the net before Miska could square up to the shot.