Western Michigan's First NCAA Tourney Since 1996

(above) Western Michigan will play DU in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament
From: Kalamazoo Gazette
by David Drew

Western Michigan University's hockey team knew it was headed to the NCAA tournament. It didn't make seeing it made official Sunday any less exciting.

The Broncos received an at-large bid and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA hockey tournament and will face the University of Denver at 5 p.m. Saturday at Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis., in the Midwest Regional.

Western Michigan lost 5-2 in Saturday's Central Collegiate Hockey Association championship game, but Friday's semifinal win over Michigan all but locked the Broncos into the NCAA tournament.

WMU last went to the NCAA tournament in 1996.

"It feels good," WMU coach Jeff Blashill said as players exited University Roadhouse after a team gathering to watch the selection show. "I think it's a great moment for our program. It's a great moment for the guys who have put in so much work throughout a great period of time to put themselves in this position as one of 16 teams playing to win four games to have a chance to win a championship.

"I'm extremely excited for our guys and extremely excited for Western Michigan that we're in this position."

The Western Michigan Department of Athletics in conjunction with the WMU Alumni Association are hard at work developing travel packages for alumni, fans and the Lawson Lunatics for Western Michigan hockey's NCAA Tournament game on Saturday against Denver in the Midwest Regional Semifinal at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis.


dusince59 said...

Anybody know what size the ice is in Green Bay?

Anonymous said...

all regionals must be NHL size ice now

Anonymous said...

I remember when Western came to the old barn back in '84 or '85. That was a real wild series. DU won something like 10-4 and 11-4...or something to that effect.

Anonymous said...


western wichigan coach jeff blashill was a teammate of seth Appert at ferris state and was the best man at seth's wedding and is his best friend today.

Longtime espn anchor john saunders played hockey at wmu.

dggoddard said...

Solid trivia. Thanks for posting.

CIS said...

So like I said I went to undergrad at WMU. A little background for yas:

WMU used to be a good hockey program. Alumni that play(ed) in the NHL include Joe Corvo, Glenn Healy, Keith Jones and Dan Dorion.

They/we fell into a slide about a decade ago, then former player Jim Culhane was hired. He basically tanked the program, though still recruited well.

Jeff Blashill has taken existing players along with some very talented freshmen and took this team from last place in the CCHA last season to 4th this year. Western swept Union and Michigan State and beat Miami, Michigan and Notre Dame this season.

DU should not look past them. Let me put it this way: they are a much better team than RIT was last year.....

Even though I am big DU fan, I think I gotta root for my upstart Broncos!

dggoddard said...

Due to the online firestorm after R.I.T. loss, Gwozdecky contract renewal situation and the fact that the DU coaches spent several weeks in the offseason reevaluating the program and "what went wrong," DU will be ready on Saturday afternoon.

They may or may not defeat Western, but they will not be looking past them.

I really think DU did some things differently down the stretch this season. They rested Brittain compared to Chevy & Mannino in previous seasons.

Gwozdecky said, the goal wasn't to win the MacNaughton even when they were in 1st place.

Perhaps due to injuries, but many players come into the playoffs with less games under their belts, so perhaps less fatigued.

Regarding injuries, DU had 9 off season surgeries after last season. Supposedly they are far healthier this year.

Best of all DU looked to be be peaking last weekend as opposed to the two game disaster at the Final 5 in 2010.

du78 said...

DU/WMU connection - Junior forward Derek Roehl on WMU is the son of former Pio great Craig Roehl who played at DU from 1976 to 1978, Craig posted 42 goals and 46 assists for 88 points in his three seasons at DU. In his senior season he scored a total of 8 shorthanded goals to set the school single season record which still stands. Besides taking a regular shift, he and Bob Pazzelli were the top penalty killers on the great 1977/78 team, Between the two of them they had 11 shorthanded goals that season.

Derek had a goal and an assist last weekend against Michigan in the CCHA semifinals.

miller said...

I think you need to look at DU's performance Saturday night. They fought hard, never gave up and played smart hockey. Sam was incredible in goal. As has been noted, a couple of the shots were off someone's skate. DU outplayed and out hustled ND. The score says that the sioux one, but for my money DU had them beat!

No matter what happens, this team has come a long way. I credit a great deal of their sucsess to the leadership of their seniors, especially Kyle Ostrow. For my money, he has been one of the best captain's I have ever had the pleasure of watching.

Let's not forget that this was to be a "rebuilding" year. Expectation weren't very high.

Thanks for the great year, it was a pleasure to watch your journey.

I see at lot of heart out there!

Anonymous said...

While I am too young to have seen Craig Roehl play, his ragging while on the penalty kill was legendary...

CIS said...

No doubt both these teams have worked very hard and exceeded expectations. Beyond cheering for them I respect them both.

du78 said...

The legendary ragging of the puck by Roehl and Pazzelli was true. I remember one kill in particular in which DU won the face-off and the PK with them killed the entire penalty without the PP team ever touching it. They would skate the puck into the offensive zone, rag it for a while, turn around and skate it back, give it one of the DU defensemen and strat it all over again. They were extremely good at forechecking the other team and forcing turnovers in the opponent's defensive zone. A pleasure to watch those guys play.

Anonymous said...

This Bronco team is a class act off the ice with the great care they have shown to this family!