Updated: Apr 29
Eric Welch, Staff Writer
UM-Dearborn’s Blake Petterle celebrates a goal against Lawrence Tech. Photo//David Herman
The No. 17 University of Michigan-Dearborn men’s ice hockey traveled out to Marlborough, Massachusetts to begin their ACHA Tournament run on Thursday, March 16 against conference foe No. 16 Lawrence Tech.
The matchup was the sixth time this season the teams faced off against each other. The Wolverines came out on top in four of the previous five, and Thursday’s contest would be more of the same for UM-Dearborn. They skated to a 5-2 victory over the Blue Devils at the New England Sports Center (NESC) Ice Arena.
The Blue Devils came out buzzing, keeping the Wolverines on their heels, and scoring the game's first goal five minutes into the first period. The goal woke the Wolverines up, and they turned on the pressure, creating chances in the offense zone.
At the 16:40 mark of the first period, defenseman Josh Makarchuk chased down a bouncing puck and scooped it into the back of the net, tying the game at a goal apiece.
The second period was dominated by the Wolverines. Blake Petterle scored a power play goal giving UM-Dearborn the 2-1 lead. Late in the period, Quest Bigelow scored the eventual game winner on a wrist shot that beat Blue Devil goalie, Noah Brandau, making it 3-1.
The Wolverines took control in the third when freshman forward Bailey Byrd took a pass from Brendan West in the slot and roofed it past Brandau for the 4-1 lead. The Blue Devils answered less than a minute later with a goal of their own, but West iced the game with an empty net goal that sent the Wolverines to the second round with a 5-2 victory.
The Wolverines second round matchup was against the 1-seed Minot State Beavers on Friday, March 17th. The top seeded team came out firing on all cylinders, and although UM-Dearborn started the game well, the size and speed of the Beavers was too much for the Wolverines to overcome. In a hard hitting and hard fought contest, Minot State dominated from the start.
The buzzing Beavers had UM-Dearborn’s defense on their heels and kept netminder Eric Polzin busy with 20 first period shots. Goals by Jay Buchholz, Troy Hamilton, and Davis Sheldon gave the Beavers a 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Dearborn started the second period strong, but mistakes in the passing game led to quality scoring chances for the Beavers. Landyn Cochrane scored at the 9:58 mark to put Minot State in front 4-0. Brayden Pawluk and Drew Carter added two more goals for the Beavers, giving them a commanding 6-0 lead.
UM-Dearborn head coach, Chris Haltinner pulled his goalie, Polzin, replacing him with back up netminder Tanner Beals to close out the game. WHAC Player of the Year Brendan West had the best scoring chance for the Wolverines when he fired a rocket that clanged loudly off the post.
The Beavers scored two more goals in the period, one from Joey Moffatt and another from Shelton to make the final score 8-0.
For the Wolverines, the loss eliminated them from the tournament and ended a solid season in which they were crowned WHAC Tournament Champions for the third time.
Minot State has since defeated No. 8 Indiana Tech in the quarterfinals in a close 4-3 overtime win on Sunday. In the semifinals on Monday, the Beavers took down No. 5 Liberty University, another overtime win by a score of 3-2.
Minot State will play in the finals for the Murdoch Cup against No. 3 Adrian College Tuesday night at 8 p.m.