NCHC Snapshot: Western Michigan
Western Michigan University is the final stop in our NCHC Snapshot series.
The Broncos finished seventh in the conference in 2015-16. WMU dropped three of four with Miami while finishing 5-18-1 – a .202 winning percentage in NCHC play and 8-25-3 (.229).
NCAA TITLES: None.
COACH: Andy Murray (6th season 81-84-27 – .421 winning percentage).
2015-16 RECORD: 8-25-3 (5-18-1 in NCHC, 7th place in the league).
POSTSEASON RESULT: Swept by SCSU in first round of NCHC tournament.
RINK (capacity): Lawson Ice Arena, Kalamazoo, Michigan (3,667).
LAST SEASON VS. MIAMI: Nov. 6-7, Miami 2-1 and 2-1 in Oxford. Feb. 19-20, Miami 4-1, WMU 4-1 WMU in Kalamazoo.
ALL-TIME SERIES: RedHawks leads, 65-58-11.
SCHEDULE VS. MIAMI: In Kalamazoo Nov. 4-5. In Oxford Jan. 27-28.
TOP RETURNING PLAYERS: So. F Griffin Molino, Sr. F Sheldon Dries, Sr. G Colin Conrad, Sr. D Chris Dienes.
KEY NEW FACES: F Wade Allison/ Myrtle, Manitoba/ Tri-City Storm, USHL; F Lawton Courtnall/Los Angeles/Sioux Falls, USHL (son of NHL F Russ Courtnall).
NOTES: WMU has finished seventh, seventh and fifth in the eight-team NCHC in three seasons.
The Broncos only managed 80 goals last season, while allowing their opponents to light the lamp 142 times, including being outscored 59-28 in the middle period of games.
Molino is the team’s top returning scorer with 25 points, including 11 goals, and Griffin was the leader on the team in assists (14).
The defense corps is led by senior Chris Dienes, who played in all 36 games a season ago, while tallying one of the team’s two shorthanded goals. Dienes racked up 14 points on three goals and 11 assists from the blue line for the Broncos.
Goalie Colin Conrad had season cut short due to injury after only seven starts while playing nine games (2-5, 4.15 GAA). Conrad, an Ohio State transfer, did make career-high 36 saves in 2-1 loss at Miami on Nov. 6.
The Broncos have added eight freshman, and WMU only has 12 upperclassmen. Western Michigan still only loses one of its top five point getters, missing forward Nolan LaPorte, who was tied for third in power-play goals with three.
WMU is trending in the wrong direction, finishing seventh in back-to-back years in the NCHC. The Broncos are off to a rough start, falling in their pre-season game at home to Toronto. WMU will also need to play much better on the road this year, as nearly anything would be an improvement from its 1-17-2 record as the visitors.