Updated: Apr 29
Eric Welch, Staff Writer
Freshman forward Danny Fletcher races for the puck against the Saints. Photo//Alana Dackiw
The #24 University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s ice hockey team (11-9-1, 10-5-1) lost back to back games this weekend against conference foe Aquinas College (13-10-8, 8-7-0) in a home and away series.
The Wolverines got off to a slow start Friday night on their home ice, giving up a goal in the first five minutes of the game and following that up by committing the game’s first penalty. At the 4:29 mark of the first period, Aquinas’s Gustov Ostran scored the goal, while Wolverine defenseman Max Hartwell was called for hooking a minute later.
The Wolverines started warming up midway through the first period, putting the pressure on the Saints, outshooting them 14-7 in the period. They were still unable to find the back of the net.
The second period began with a five-on-three power play for the Wolverines, which the Saints were able to kill off. Aquinas added another goal when a Shane DiTullios shot beat UM-Dearborn goaltender Eric Polzin to make the score 2-0. Tensions started to heat up shortly after the second goal, as Aquinas’s Gavin Phillips and UM-D’s Dakota Potter were both sent to the penalty box for roughing.
In the third period, the Wolverines found themselves with another five-on-three power play. Desperately in need of a goal, head coach Chris Haltinner called a time out to discuss strategy. Haltinner ultimately opted to pull Polzin out of the net to give the Wolverines a six-on-three advantage.
Haltinner’s decision paid off, as the Wolverines were rewarded with a power play goal off the stick of freshman forward Bailey Byrd. Despite outshooting Aquinas 48-21 for the game, Byrd’s goal would be the lone one, as the Wolverines lost with a final of 2-1.
Saturday night, the two teams faced off again, this time in the Saints home barn at Southside Ice Arena in Byron Center, MI. In a high scoring affair with twelve combined goals, Aquinas UM-Dearborn for the second time in consecutive nights, this time by a score of 7-5.
UM-Dearborn forward Mikhail Khudenko scored the game’s first goal just two minutes into the contest. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Aquinas scored the next three goals. Eventually, the Wolverines evened things up when star forward Brendan West tied the game 5-5 with 11 minutes left in the third period. That was as close as they would get, as Aquinas added two more goals, including an empty net goal with just 40 seconds remaining.
Next up for the Wolverines is a non-conference series matchup against nationally ranked #9 Pittsburgh on Friday (Jan. 20) and Saturday (Jan. 21) at UM-Dearborn Ice Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 3 P.M. on both days.