Minnesota-Duluth vs. Western Michigan Game Preview

Story posted November 4, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Jacob Cheris

The No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs take on the No. 10 Western Michigan Broncos in a top-ten, NCHC slugfest.

Both squads are amongst the top ten in the PairWise. The Bulldogs, 5-1-0, are coming off of a sweep against state rival Minnesota, while the Broncos are coming off of a sweep of their own against Colgate.

The Bulldogs are not known for their offense. Their leading goal-scorer, Blake Biondi, only has three goals. However, they find ways to win even with a limited offense.

Minnesota-Duluth always plays stout defense. It has only given up a total of 143 shots so far this season.

In the crease, Ryan Fanti has been terrific. After having an inconsistent season last year, he has not lost a game. The third-year netminder currently has a 1.75 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.

Both teams have a similar style of play, though the Broncos have a slight advantage in the offensive category. Western Michigan will be the first conference opponent that the Bulldogs will face.

Western Michigan is an offensive powerhouse. Ethen Frank leads the team with six goals, which is seventh in the nation. The fifth-year forward has points in every game this season. Drew Worrad has also been terrific, leading the team with seven assists.

Western Michigan gets a lot of its offense from the defense. Michael Joyaux has seven assists, which is tied for third in among all defensemen. Ronnie Attard has also been terrific leading all defensemen with four goals.

The one question for the Broncos is their goaltending. Brandon Bussi has been good, but his save percentage is just above .900. He is currently 5-1-0. Conference play is a big test for any goaltender. It is going to be interesting to see how Bussi matches up with Fanti.

This series is going to be very unpredictable. Both teams can produce lots of offense and play stout defense.

Expect this series to be physical along with both teams giving the opponent the bad ice. Getting into the zone cleanly is going to be very difficult for both squads.

Both teams are coming in red hot, so scoring the first goal will also play a big factor in each game of the series.

Finally, another key factor will be special teams. Minnesota-Duluth has weak special teams. It is going to be imperative that the Bulldogs play five-on-five for the majority of the series. They are a very well disciplined team taking just about three penalties per game.

Western Michigan has been average on the power play at 21.4%. Similar to its opponent, the Broncos play best at even strength.

The battle kicks off at Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo, Michigan at 7 p.m.

Prediction: Split

Jacob Cheris is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email jacobcheris19@gmail.com.