Toward the end of the third period Saturday night, frustration
was clearly on the minds of the Western Michigan players on the
ice. Michigan scored 11 goals in the series to secure a sweep of
the Broncos, who had been the hottest team in the CCHA entering the
weekend. Western Michigan had thrown anything and everything at
goaltender Al Montoya in the third period, but the sophomore turned
all 21 shots aside.

Kate Green
DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily
Bushee ducks for cover as Brown continues to land crushing blows.

With 1:05 left in the game, the frustration reached a boiling
point.

Freshman Mike Brown skated into a corner of the Michigan zone,
and he was tied up by Western Michigan defender Kyle Bushee. Both
players were battling for possession, with Brown trying to move the
puck out of the zone. Michigan junior Michael Woodford came into
the corner to help and was met by Western Michigan’s other
defenseman, Mat Ponto. As all four players tried to move the puck,
the physical play in the corner exploded into a scuffle between the
two Wolverines and two Broncos. Michigan coach Red Berenson felt
that the fight could have been prevented had the referees stepped
in earlier.

“I’m a big believer that anytime the puck is frozen
on the boards, blow the whistle,” Berenson said. “Blow
the whistle because something is going to happen. Players keep
pushing and shoving and pretty soon, something starts. And
that’s what happened.”

By the time Bushee and Ponto began to take out their rage on
Brown and Woodford, respectively, eight of the ten skaters on the
ice were involved in various levels of fisticuffs.

“You gotta do what you gotta do,” Brown said.
“They were getting a little out of control and they were
talking last night too. (It was) getting out of hand. So I’m
just taking care of business.”

Brown held nothing back as he fought with Bushee, landing
several hard blows. At one point, Bushee stopped throwing punches
and covered his head as Brown continued to land haymakers.

As the fight between Brown and Bushee was being broken up by the
referees, Woodford and Ponto’s bout picked up in intensity.
Skating toward center ice, both players fell to the ice surface and
wrestled with each other.

“It’s pretty intense,” Woodford said.
“Thirty seconds of just throwing all out. You just try to
hold on to (the other guy’s) dominant hand, which is usually
his right, and just keeping throwing the other right and just keep
throwing.”

Both Brown and Woodford will be suspended for at least one game
of next weekend’s series against Lake Superior for fighting.
Teammate Brandon Kaleniecki felt that fighting is a way of
portraying team unity in tough situations.

“When something like that happens, it’s good to see
that (Brown is) willing to stand up for his teammates,”
Kaleniecki said. “I think everybody on our team would be
willing to do it. But it’s good to see — it’s
kind of a team-building thing — when you see things are
getting rough out there and he goes out there and takes care of
business.”

Woodford added: “We don’t go looking for fights. The
guys on my team respect what Brown and I did tonight, and hopefully
we’ll build off that, and hopefully the guys will build off
that for next weekend.”

Some of the frustration was left over from the previous
night’s game in Kalamazoo. Montoya and Western Michigan
captain Dana Lattery had exchanged words all night, and Lattery
crashed into Montoya as he tried to play the puck behind the net.
From that point on there was a lot of heavy hitting on both
sides.

“There was a lot of chirping last night (during) the
game,” Woodford said. “When Lattery ran at Montoya last
night, you kind of take exceptions to that.

“They got what they deserved.”

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