WMU Hockey Falls in NCHC Semifinals

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MINNEAPOLIS – The Western Michigan hockey team fell to Minnesota-Duluth, 5-2, in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Frozen Faceoff Semifinals on Saturday evening at the Target Center.

The Broncos got goals from Taylor Fleming and Colt Conrad but were unable to get past the second-seeded Bulldogs.

UMD took an early lead at 13:09 in the first period on a power play goal by Dominic Toninato. Alex Iafallo drove the slot and put a back-hander on net. Ben Blacker made the initial save but the rebound bounced right to Toninato and he put it into the net.

WMU responded minutes later at 16:34 on a goal by Fleming. Griffen Molino had the puck at the top of the crease but was on his back-hand. He spun and passed it to Fleming in the deep slot and the senior defenseman put it off the right post and into the net for his second goal of the season.

Minnesota-Duluth retook the lead just 24 seconds later on a goal by Kyle Osterberg. Jarod Hilderman fired a shot on net that was saved by Blacker but Osterberg was in front of the net and punched it in for his 12th goal of the season to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead.

Early in the second period Frederik Tiffels had a goal waved off but the Broncos responded at 7:10 to tie the game on at 2-2 on Conrad’s goal. Fleming fired a shot on net and Conrad was parked just to the left on UMD goalie Hunter Miska and put it past him for his 13th goal of the season.

Iafallo answered this time on the game-winning goal at 16:11 in the second period. Parker Mackay found Iafallo streaking up the right side and he beat Blacker on his glove side for his 18th of the season.

Mackay finished off an odd-man rush after Adam Johnson outwaited a Bronco defender and found Mackay all alone for the tap-in goal at 14:58 in the third period to push the lead to 4-2. Jared Thomas added an empty-net goal at 17:59 to put the game out of reach.

The Broncos outshot the Bulldogs 26-23, while UMD finished 1-for-5 on the power play and WMU 0-for-5.

Western Michigan will play the loser of the North Dakota and Denver game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

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