BY BENJAMIN SZILAGY, Staff Writer
The University of Michigan-Dearborn Wolves swept Eastern Michigan, 5-3 and 9-3, in a home and home series over the weekend.
Both games were dominated by sophomore goaltender Josh Khan and special teams play, which are both coming on as of late.
The Eagles (6-16) opened the scoring eight minutes into Friday’s contest with a goal by freshman Anthony Stankiewicz, who beat Khan with a quick wrist shot. But, it took the Wolves (10-10) just over two minutes to answer with a power play goal by freshman Jeremy Klotz, tying the game, 1-1.
Eastern would break the tie six minutes into the second period with a goal by freshman Bryan Kozlowski. UM-D Senior Kyle Papke would tie the game back up late in the second period with an unassisted goal.
Even though both teams traded goals through the second and early into third period, play began to get chippy on the ice.
In the second period both teams sent a total of 9 players, 5 from UM-D and 4 from EMU, to the penalty box after a boarding penalty from sophomore Cole Armil. That penalty started a chain reaction of fights between both teams, a theme that would continue into Saturday.
After a quick EMU goal by Matt Grider in the third period, the Wolves answered with goals by Klotz, Contratto, and Macari, who scored on an empty net when the Eagles pulled Andrew Duff for an extra attacker.
The Wolves capped Friday’s contest outscoring the Eagles in the third period, three goals to one, significantly due to Khan, who faced 47 shots and turned away 44 of them.
Saturday’s contest, which was highlighted by Parent’s Night at the Fieldhouse, was less of tightly contested affair.
The Wolves dominated the first period with sharp defense, efficient passing, and a dominating offense that kept the puck in the Eagles’ zone most of the first period.
Eagle’s Sophomore goaltender Andrew Duff started both games and succumbed to the Wolves’ constant peppering, allowing two goals in the first period by Brandon Contratto and Nick Crowley.
Contratto’s goal was fired from the high slot after a quick pass from John Vella, while Crowley was in the right place at the right time, rebounding his initial shot past a sprawling Duff, giving the Wolves a 2-0 lead into the second period.
The Eagles’ Bryan Kozlowski would score on a power play goal early into the second period that cut into EMU’s deficit.
UM-D’s special teams, especially facing a man advantage, have turned negatives into positives since their game at Michigan State. First year head coach Bobby Clouston has added emphasis on defensive pressure on penalty kills. The Wolves special teams have created turnovers in their opponent’s zone and capitalized off of those opportunities. Saturday was no different.
The Wolves responded with their own short-handed goal by Michael Macari with a minute left in the penalty kill, regaining their two-goal lead, 3-1.
The bad blood from Friday’s game spilled into Saturday’s matchup as well, which ironically erupted in the second period. After a slew of penalties, one of which expelled Kyle Horn from the game, a fight between EMU and UM-D began that would set the tone for the rest of the game.
After both teams exchanged goals again in the second period, keeping the score two goals apart at 4-2 in favor of UM-D, Eastern Michigan decided to get even on the ice with their fists in the third.
Eight minutes into the period, after two goals, one by UM-D’s Kyle Papke, followed by Michael Macari’s second of the game, another fight broke out that resulted in nine players getting penalties. Tempers flared after extracurricular play and poke checking numerous times after Josh Khan saves.
The fights littered the ice with bodies, helmets, sticks, and gloves in a distasteful fashion. Eagles’ head coach Kevin Gee only made matters worse, taunting Wolves players in the box and on the bench, and not controlling and settling his players down. Instead, he let his players throw tape and give inappropriate gestures to Michigan Journal staff working the game.
The Wolves, however, kept their composure and scored five goals in the third, finishing the sweep at home.
The wins this weekend helped the wolves stay in a tight race for first in the GLCHL Division, trailing Adrian and Oakland by a game apiece.
UM-D will travel to Davenport on Friday and Saturday, for two games on the road where they hope to continue their winning ways and build off of their 7-3 conference record.