Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Frank Slubowski shines in Outdoor Hockey City Classic in Chicago

Frank Slubowski at
Soldier Field on Saturday
at the Hockey City Classic
When Prince Rupert's Frank Slubowski first skated out onto the somewhat frozen pond (ice issues dogged the tournament all weekend) that was Chicago's famed Soldier Field on Saturday, the opening pre game warmup looked as though it might be the closest he would get to the showcase that was the Hockey City Classic.

However, as the second intermission gave way to the third period of Western Michigan Univeristy's match up with the Redhawks of Miami of Ohio, head coach Andy Murray made the call to send Slubowski into third period action.

Looking to use the change in the net to not only gain the attention of his then lethargic Broncos, but perhaps to bring out a shift in momentum for the final period of the outdoor showdown.

And as events played out at the famed home of the Chicago Bears, the Bronco's came oh so close to delivering that comeback.

Slubowski entered the game with Western Michigan trailing University of Miami (Ohio) by four goals, with the former PRMHA grad holding the line on Miami hockey scoring, while the Broncos did their part on offence, chipping away at the Miami lead and taking the margin to but one goal into the final minute of the third frame.

The Redhawks however, settled their play down and held on to claim the victory 4-3, bringing to an end the frantic end to end play of the final period.

Through his twenty minutes of play, Slubowski was solid in the Bronco net turning aside all 15 of the Miami shots directed his way, a little more than a third of all shots faced by the Broncos all afternoon.

In total through the three periods of play,  Miami of Ohio took 41 shots on the WMU nets, making for a tough day for Bronco starter Lukas Hafner.

The Boxscore for Saturday's game can be found here.

The outdoor game, in what seems to be a recent Bronco tradition, is a memory maker that has become part of the mid winter celebration of US college hockey. The timing of these tournaments adding to the drama for the NCAA squads that are staring down the end of the regular season and the championship games ahead.

With the distraction of the outdoor game and all of the events that go with it now behind them, WMU can focus on the larger task at hand for the immediate US college hockey season.

The attention of the Bronco's now will be that of looking to secure a beneficial spot in the NCHC divisional playoffs and then, should all go well, a berth in the NCAA's Frozen Four.

For the majority of this season, head coach Andy Murray has given Lukas Hafner the tap on the shoulder for Bronco starts, so far this year, Slubowski has appeared in six of the Bronco's games.

With his strong game of Saturday afternoon and answering the call of a pretty tough situation, it could be that Frank Slubowski may soon find a few more starting assignments coming his way as the stretch run to the playoffs gets underway.

The Broncos are currently holding down seventh place in the NCHC, leaving them little room for error as they look to book a spot in the Minneapolis tournament in March.

Western Michigan is on the road next weekend as they take on the NCHC leaders from Nebraska-Omaha.

The NCHC regular season comes to an end on March 7th when the Broncos host Minnesota-Duluth, with the quarterfinals to follow on March 13 to 15.

Some of the media reviews of the Hockey City Classic can be found below.

WMU Hockey falls to No. 8 Miami, 4-3 after third period rally comes up short
Broncos fall 4-3 in Hockey City Classic
Warm weather, poor attendance mar ambiance for Hockey City Classic
Delayed Hockey City Classic struggles with attendance

For more on Frank Slubowski's time at WMU see our archive page here.

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