Western Michigan Hockey: Broncos head into NCHC Pod to kick off 2020-21

(Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images) /

Nationally-ranked Western Michigan hockey has traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to kick off the 2020-21 season in the NCHC Pod.

As college hockey has kicked off around the country, Western Michigan hockey has seen its 2020-21 season get underway. The Western Michigan Broncos have traveled to Omaha, Nebraska where the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) has a 3-week bubble format that is underway.

The NCHC is playing out a conference-only schedule for the first half of their season in a Pod at the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Baxter Arena. The Broncos will play ten games between December 1st and December 19th before a holiday break leads them into the 2021 calendar year and the second half of their season.

Currently, the Broncos are ranked 17th in the USCHO national rankings being one of the four NCHC teams that found their way into the rankings. Fellow in-state competition, the University of Michigan Wolverines are ranked fourth in the same national rankings, being led by the trio of freshmen.

However, the Broncos are looking to catch these Wolverines and move up in the rankings. The Broncos dropped their first game in the Pod to the St. Cloud State Huskies which does not help their ranking any, but it was the first time the team has played in quite some time.

The Huskies captured a 4-3 victory over the Broncos after a last-minute goal would elevate them to a win. The 2020-21 season is already throwing the team curveballs as goaltender Brandon Bussi left the game with an injury which appeared to have him in severe pain as he could not put much weight onto his left leg when leaving the ice.

Bussi is a sophomore goaltender who was the team’s netminder in 2019-20 could miss extended time. Turning the keys to the crease over to Senior Austin Cain who has played just thirteen games during his team in a Broncos uniform, with the most recent coming in 2018-19.

Looking ahead to the Western Michigan Broncos competition in the NCHC Pod, it will be fun to watch.

During the Broncos ten-game stint they have coming up in the NCHC Pod, they will take on Colorado College, the University of Denver, the University of Nebraska-Omaha, the University of North Dakota, and St. Cloud State University two times apiece to round our their ten games.

The Broncos will be taking on the number one nationally-ranked North Dakota Fighting Hawks which will be quite the challenge in itself. However, the Broncos are coming off of a 42-point, fourth-place finish in the NCHC, featuring a 12-9-3-2 record in 2019-20.

On top of this, Western Michigan would lose six players to NHL contracts after the 2019-20 season ended. Wade Allison (PHI), Dawson DiPietro (BUF), Cam Lee (PIT), Hugh McGing (STL), Austin Rueschhoff (NYR), and Mattias Samuelsson (BUF) departed the Western Michigan hockey program for the aforementioned NHL contracts.

This does not mean the Broncos are screwed, they still have a ton of talent in the form of returners like Paul Washe who was named captain, Ethen Frank and Josh Passolt who are both returning senior forwards, an offensive threat in the form of sophomore Ronnie Attard, and others.

They will likely be a threat in the NCHC and nationally as they will fight to move up the rankings. However, if Bussi is out for an extended period of time, it will be an uphill climb for the Broncos. Fans looking to watch some quality college hockey should tune into the NCHC Pod games.

Fans looking to see the Broncos hit the ice once again should tune in to NCHC.tv tonight. The Western Michigan Broncos take on the Omaha Mavericks in game two of the Broncos season.