Western Michigan Hockey: NCHC Pod leaves Broncos with an uphill battle

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

Western Michigan hockey is going to be on an uphill battle after a tough start.

Going into December of 2020, the Western Michigan hockey program was gearing up to compete in the NCHC Pod in Omaha, Nebraska. The Western Michigan Broncos came into the 2020-21 season as a nationally-ranked team, number nine in the top twenty rankings.

After a rough turn of events and three weeks of games, the Broncos come out of the NCHC Pod with a 2-6-2 record, which is less than ideal. They have also fallen out of the national rankings allowing another NCHC team, the St. Cloud State Huskies, to jump into the rankings.

For the Broncos, they had to deal with the loss of Brandon Bussi to an injury that has him on the sidelines. He would get injured early on, leading to a rough NCHC Pod for Andy Murray and the Broncos.

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They are at the bottom of the NCHC conference, alongside Colorado College, 2-3-2 after COVID-19 delayed their entrance to the NCHC Pod.

Below them is the Miami RedHawks, who closed out their NCHC Pod with a 6-2 loss to the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, taking their record to 2-7-1.

The Broncos were outscored 46 to 30 over the course of their ten-game effort in the NCHC Pod.

The team does not look like the same Broncos team from the 2019-20 season; losing Bussi put the team a few steps back after having to rely on backup netminders.

Goaltending duties were passed on to Alex Aslanidis and Austin Cain, with all of the starts going to Cain.

In ten games, nine starts, Cain would produce a 4.23 goals-against average (GAA) and a .872 save-percentage (SV%) while accounting for all of the 2-6-2 record that the Broncos produced.

Aslanidis was called into two games; he allowed seven goals in less than sixty minutes. His GAA was 8.16, and he also had a scary .750 SV% when he did get his chance in net.

The Western Michigan Broncos need to find success early in the second half of the 2020-21 season.

Western Michigan hockey coach Andy Murray is in a tough spot heading into the holiday break before the team welcomes the Miami RedHawks to Lawson Arena for a two-game set after the first of the year.

This horrid start for the Broncos is largely because of Bussi’s injury. The Broncos will have to battle back if they want to move up the ranks in the NCHC and try to find themselves ranked once again.

The good news for the Western Michigan hockey program is that they will get Bussi back eventually, though the timetable is unknown. On top of that, their first four games are against the Miami RedHawks, who are in the depths of the NCHC as well.

Frankly, there is no good way to put it; the Broncos are in a tough spot without Bussi, and a 2-6-2 showing at the NCHC Pod is concerning. The Broncos are going to be fighting an uphill battle, as hinted at earlier.

Six games against the RedHawks, six games against the Huskies, and six games against the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs will make up the second half of their season. They’re going to need a miracle if they plan on finishing anywhere near the top of the NCHC, which is quite talented.

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After a 2-6-2 start, the Western Michigan hockey program has a long road ahead of them; hopefully, for their sake, they can get the ball rolling early against the Miami RedHawks.