Western hockey is advancing to nationals after beating Eastern Washington University. The final score was 11-1 at the North Pacific Hockey Conference championship in Cheney Sunday, Feb. 19.
“It wasn’t the way we wanted to win the championship. We wanted a clean win,” head coach Larry MacDonald said.
A 6-4 victory on Feb. 18 over the University of Idaho placed Western in the conference championship. Junior goalie and son of Western’s head coach, Robert MacDonald, said Western had more control than the scoreboard showed against Idaho.
“I don’t think it was the most even-keeled game. [The refs] told us before the third period that it was going to be more biased against us with penalties, which is odd. Usually you aren’t supposed to do that, so it was weird.”
“We were a different team the second night, but we could of easily beat Idaho by a better margin than we did,” Robert MacDonald said.
Larry MacDonald said the way Eastern played in the conference championship was disheartening to the game.
“We have not had a history of good outcomes with [Eastern] this year from sportsmanship aspects,” Larry MacDonald said. “The aspects of winning the games, we’ve beaten them every time this year.”
Senior forward Billy Holbrook, who averaged 2.71 points per game this regular season, said they were expecting a dirty game against Eastern.
“We came in thinking these are games we have to prove ourselves and that’s what we did,” Holbrook said. “Everyone came in with a good mindset and it all worked out in the end.”
During the third period of the conference championship, a line brawl broke out after a cross-check by an Eastern Washington player.
“We are going to talk to the commissioner and see where this goes,” Larry MacDonald said. “The brawl itself started with a cross-check and it just blew up. We had one of their guys jump one of ours, then two of their guys after that. You can watch the film.”
Three players on each team were ejected because of the brawl, including Western goalie Robert MacDonald, leading to freshman goalie Karl Andersson to finish the game in net.
“I don’t think it was the most even-keeled game,” Robert MacDonald said. “[The refs] told us before the third period that it was going to be more biased against us with penalties, which is odd. Usually you aren’t supposed to do that, so it was weird.”
Western outshot Eastern 52-26 during the championship game, with four goals from senior forward Andrew Flett, making it Flett’s first hat-trick for Western.
Nationals are in Buffalo, New York at the end of March.
Robert MacDonald said nationals has been the team’s focus.
“I’d love to go [to nationals] and play against some real stiff competition, to show that we [have] a solid team in Washington that can compete at a national level,” Robert MacDonald said.