WMU Broncos Hockey Team Ranked Third; Highest Position Ever
Right now it's nothing more than bragging rights. Yes, it's Rare Air, and as Broncos Coach Pat Ferschweiler would probably be the first to tell you, that's all it is, and until you've won the NCAA Frozen Four competition, it just a pat on the back for what you've accomplished so far.
That having been said, the Western Michigan Broncos hockey team is ranked third in the country in both national polls. That's never happened. This is a program that dates back to 1973, and went Division 1 in 1975. It took 11 years before winning the conference tournament, and a trip to the NCAA tournament, where they were knocked out in the first round against Harvard.
It was another six season before the 1994 team made it to the tournament and with it a quick exit against perennial power Wisconsin. They rebounded back into the tournament two seasons later, in 1996, but again were quickly knocked out by Clarkson.
A long drought followed that but with the hiring of Jeff Blashill in 2011 the team finally made the post-season but was knocked out in a heart-breaker in double overtime. After the season Blashill left to go coach for the Detroit Red Wings organization, and long-time NHL coach Andy Murray was brought in. Two of Murray's teams made the NCAA tournament; in his first year and in 2016-17. Murray retired after last season.
Over the years, the program has sent its share of players to the NHL, with maybe the most visible now being Keith Jones, who was on NBC's studio coverage for years and now has joined TNT.
The onus on the team now is to keep winning and stay in this lofty position, as it would not only guarantee a trip to the NCAA tournament and better seeding in that tournament. In a few months, we'll know just how good this team is.
The Broncos return to action on the weekend of January 14-15th at Colorado College.