Updated: Oct 5
Brian Gornick, Sports Editor
Junior forward Chance Matthews (81) drives the puck against Oakland University on September 23, 2023. Photo//Alana Dackiw.
Last month, the University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s ice hockey team began their season with a home-and-away series against Oakland University on Sept. 22 and 23. Last season, the Wolverines finished with a record of 22-13-2, capped off with a WHAC Tournament Championship and ending Indiana Tech’s streak of two consecutive conference tournament titles.
In the Preseason Coaches' Poll, UM-Dearborn ranked first in the WHAC poll with 46 total points with five first-place votes.
The first game of the season was played at Oakland University on Sept. 22. It did not take long for the Wolverines to make a statement, scoring two goals in the first six minutes of the game. By the end of the first period, UM-Dearborn led 6-0, including a short-handed goal by Ryan Teets and a power-play goal by Joey Cullinan.
UM-Dearborn went on to score four more goals in the second period and five goals in the third, winning 15-0. Seniors Brendan West and Cullinan both led the team in scoring with seven points, each scoring a hat-trick, followed by sophomore Bailey Byrd with a goal and five assists.
The Wolverines followed up their dominant victory with another impressive performance the next day at their Homecoming game. The first period began with the Wolverines scoring four goals, two of which came from Cullinan as he followed up the first monster game.
The second period was largely uneventful, with the Wolverines scoring only one goal just over five minutes in from junior forward Quest Bigelow.
The team came to life in the third period, scoring seven goals, two of those being power-play goals from Max Hartwell and West. The Wolverines beat Oakland again in a 12-0 victory, putting them at 2-0 to start the season.
A few driving factors led the Wolverines to a dominant start. The first is the play of goaltender Tanner Beals, who has a perfect save percentage combined with two shutouts on the season already. The special teams units have also been effective for the team, with the Wolverines scoring on four of five power-play opportunities and successfully killing all five power plays against them. If the team can keep up their special teams dominance, the Wolverines will be pushing for another WHAC title come the end of the season.
The Wolverines begin WHAC play this upcoming Friday, Oct. 6 at Concordia Ann Arbor, followed by a home game against Concordia on Saturday, Oct. 7.