KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Western Michigan hockey roster looks a bit different this season. The Broncos are losing their top four goal scorers to NHL contracts and are extremely young this winter.
"We're not going to use losing guys as an excuse to lose," said tenth-year head coach Andy Murray, "we'd rather look with a smile on our face at our guys and how hard they're working, we'll need someone to score."
The Broncos will lean on seven seniors, captain Paul Washe is one of them and is excited about this class of freshmen.
"What's made it easy is they're all great people and great hockey players," Washe said, "they're going to be great contributors to our team this year. As a team, we're very excited."
The team had a lot of success once again last season and had high expectations before the postseason was canceled due to COVID-19.
"We had good players last year," Murray added, "we thought we'd be in Detroit to play for a national championship, but that doesn't help us this season."
Murray says the expectations for the program won't change, despite the youth on the roster.
"I know a lot of the experts will have us seventh or eighth and that's fine," Murray said, "I've told our players we're going to surprise a lot of people this year."
The Broncos are one of eight teams that will open up in a NCHC "Pod" in Omaha, Nebraska on December 1st, WMU will play ten games in 19 days, four of those in their first six nights.
"We appreciate the opportunity that we've been given to go to the pod in Omaha," said Murray while recognizing the brutal schedule, "there have been a lot of details that have gone on behind the scenes."
The team will only leave their hotel room to play hockey, Murray added but the players are excited about that.
"It's going to be different for everybody," Washe said, "for all of the teams involved, but it's going to be exciting. We're just going to be worried about hockey and playing as much as we can in those three weeks."
The USCHO preseason poll has the Broncos ranked 18th nationally, despite the youth. Western Michigan opens with St. Cloud State on Dec. 1st in Omaha.