KALAMAZOO, Mich. — At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Ty Glover knows what his role is with the Western Michigan men's hockey team.
"When I'm playing my best, I'm really hard on the forecheck and I'm getting 4-5 good hits a game and a couple good shots on net and being right in front of the goalie's eyes all night," Glover said. "Adjusting to the speed of college hockey and playing in the best conference in college hockey and it took a couple games, but I'm starting to feel more and more like myself."
When a college player is not playing his game, particularly an underclassman, it is not atypical for them to be a healthy lineup scratch for a game to make a point. That happened to Glover when he sat the second game of an NCHC series against Miami.
He responded last weekend for the Broncos. Glover had a goal and an assist in each game and was a plus-2 in a five-point series for Western Michigan at Miami.
"He comes to the rink with a smile on his face every day," Broncos coach Andy Murray said of Glover, who scored both of his goals on the power play against Miami. "He's enthusiastic, works hard, competes hard and had a tremendous training camp for us and certainly opened our eyes as to his possibilities.
"He's like any young player," Murray said of Glover, who had one assist and was a minus-11 in his first eight college games. "There's going to be certain growing pains. Some nights he needs reminders. He needs to continue to be a physical force. He was recruited to be a power forward and that means being a power forward every night.
"There was a game (Jan. 2) where he wasn't and didn't play the second game (in the series). But that's a real credit to Ty is the way he reacted."
The Broncos (3-8-3-0-0-1 NCHC, 3-8-3 overall) are hopeful that he has another good series this weekend when they play host to NCHC-leading St. Cloud State (9-4-0-2-2-0, 9-4-0).
The game times for the series between Western Michigan and the fourth-ranked Huskies have changed. The teams will play at 5 p.m. CST Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday at Lawson Arena.
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SCSU, WMU split at the NCHC Pod
In a typical season, the Huskies and Broncos would play, at the most, four times during a regular season. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, the teams will play six times this season.
St. Cloud State and Western Michigan split two games at the NCHC Pod with the Huskies winning 4-3 on Dec. 1 and the Broncos picking up their first win of the season (2-1) on Dec. 9.
"We're really starting to get our game together and we beat St. Cloud once before and we should have beat them twice," Glover said. "We plan on beating them twice this weekend.
"We need to be heavy on the forecheck, pressure the 'D' and get turnovers. We need to get lots of traffic in front of their goalie and be really good on our power play and penalty kill."
Goaltending, special teams
Against Miami last weekend, Murray and the coaching staff decided to make a change in goal with Alex Aslanidis getting the starts in both games after giving him two relief appearances in the Broncos' first 13 games. Sophomore Brandon Bussi suffered a season-ending injury in the opener and was replaced by senior Austin Cain.
But Cain is 2-8-2 with an .866 save percentage and 4.23 goals-against average after giving up eight goals in two home losses to Miami on Jan. 2-3. Last weekend, Aslanidis, a freshman from Morristown, N.J., picked up his first college win (4-1, Jan. 8) and then had 25 saves as the Broncos picked up the extra point in a 2-0 shootout win over Miami.
In that series, he had a .911 save percentage and 1.92 GAA.
"It would kind of be a tough decision after your guy just won a couple games not to put back in there the next time," Murray said of Aslanidis starting against the Huskies. "He's continued to get better and he had to mature in terms of his preparation and mental focus. He's had great practices in the last couple of weeks and has taken a step forward."
While the Broncos have struggled for wins, an area of strength has been the power play. Western Michigan is 16th out of 51 NCAA Division I teams on the power play at 23.8% (10-for-42), though they are 0-for-6 in two games with the man advantage against the Huskies.
"Ask me after this weekend because St. Cloud's penalty kill is running at about 89%," Murray said of his team's power play. "We're facing a team that's leading our conference now and if you win three of four games against Duluth, that's pretty tough to do. We have great team coming into (Lawson Arena)."
Western Michigan is 42nd on the penalty kill at 72%. St. Cloud State is 10th on the penalty kill (88.2%) and tied for 22nd on the power play (21.4%).