Broncos Head to North Dakota for Huge NCHC Weekend
The Western Michigan Broncos head out on the road to take on the leader in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in a pivotal late-season weekend.
The Broncos, now ranked 16th in the nation, are coming off a weekend split with the two-time defending National champion Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. With the three-point weekend, Western keeps pace with the leaders in the NCHC with two regular-season weekends remaining.
The schedule gets tougher as they make way to Grand Forks to take on the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, who have been the top-ranked team in the nation for a better part of the season. The 4th-ranked Hawks stumbled last weekend, earning just one point on the road with the St. Cloud State Huskies. The slip allowed Duluth to gain ground in the conference race for the top and Western an outside chance of taking the regular-season title.
The weekend is also a statement weekend for the Broncos, who could lock up home ice for the first round of the NCHC playoffs. The Brown and Gold would need at least five points of a possible six to earn another home weekend.
Western has also had some success at Ralph Engelstad Stadium since the NCHC began. Even though the series between the two schools is in Dakota's favor at 21-7, the Broncos are 4-6 at "The Ralph", including a weekend sweep in Grand Forks last year. They will look to avenge an early season sweep by the Hawks at Lawson.
Broncos head coach Andy Murray talks about the team's success in North Dakota during his weekly conference. He opens the conference with condolences for longtime Blue Line Club supporter Maggie Predum and discusses his current tie superstition on the bench.
The Fighting Hawks have already secured home ice for their opening round in the NCHC playoffs, but the importance of this weekend is not just for them, but for every team in the conference. Head Coach Brad Barry talks about seeing a different Bronco team than what they saw in December, and getting two key players back into their lineup in Shane Pinto and Jordan Kawaguchi.
Face-off for Friday's game is at 8:37 pm from Grand Forks and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network. Saturday's game begins at 8:07 pm.
The Broncos return home on Friday, March 6th, and Saturday, March 7th, for their regular season finale with the rival Miami Redhawks. A few tickets remain for Friday's game and even less on Saturday, as the Broncos honor their nine seniors that evening. Face-off both nights is at 7:05 pm.