By AARIF MOHIE EL-DEEN, Wolves hockey beat reporter
If there was anything the Wolves proved this weekend, it’s that regardless of whom they’re playing against, they’ll skate their hearts out until the buzzer sounds.
It’s not easy for any team to escape a two-goal deficit at the Onyx in Rochester, but the Wolves proved the doubters wrong and skated away with a 5-3 victory Friday night, over the University of Oakland Golden Grizzlies.
The following night, at the University of Michigan-Dearborn Fieldhouse, the Grizzlies answered back and evened up the series as the Wolves fell, 6-2.
The Grizzlies, feeding off their home crowd, came out strong Friday night right off the opening face-off. They controlled the puck in the Wolves territory for a majority of the period and beat starter Josh Khan twice in the first ten minutes to take a two-goal lead.
While the second period has proven to be a difference maker for the opposition the last couple weeks, it was the Wolves that had a role reversal, and took a lead into the third period.
They were applying a lot of pressure throughout the period but were unable to beat Corey Hrischuk, the towering Oakland goaltender. But, with just over four minutes remaining, the Wolves went on their third power play of the period. The top line was sent out to get the Wolves on the board, and they did exactly that.
Junior Anthony Olson found senior John Vella along the right boards, and he skated in through two defensemen. As he was falling down he flipped the puck up and over Hrischuk who had already gone down to attempt to cover it. This goal was one of three the Wolves would score in the final four minutes of the period.
Junior Nick Crowley received a hooking minor just under two minutes later. A chance for the Grizzlies to go up two goals turned into a difference maker for the Wolves instead.
Junior Jimmy Marchese and Kuhary were sent out to kill the penalty. Within a span of 63 seconds both forwards scored shorthanded goals in similar fashion.
Kuhary scored the first one receiving a pass from Marchese and using his speed to skate into the zone up the left boards, before beating Hrischuk down low. Marchese would score the exact same goal from the exact same spot to give the Wolves a 3-2 lead. It was their third goal in under three minutes.
The Grizzlies eventually tied the game up early in the third period. The goal proved to not have any significance, as Olson would put the Wolves ahead just 49 seconds later. Just in case his goal wasn’t enough, freshman Ryan Kelly added another tally nine seconds later to give the Wolves a 5-3 lead.
With four minors late in the period, the Wolves would play the rest of the game down two men, but due to Khan’s strong play and senior Alex McDonnell putting his body on the line for the team on the penalty kill, the Wolves would not concede another goal and upset the Grizzlies in the first game.
On Saturday the Wolves suffered an unfortunate fate. Not only did they lose the game, but they also lost Vella to an injury. Golden Grizzlies defenseman Dustin Hobfner hit Vella with a blatant knee-on-knee hit midway through the second period.
“Playing without Vella will be tough,” said senior Matt Knezek. “He provides a good mix of touch and spunk to our team.”
With the Grizzlies up 3-1 in the second period, the Kuhary and Marchese duo once again set up a goal.
Kuhary fed Marchese who sent the puck to junior Jacob Poynter who slapped it from the blue-line past the goalie to make it a one-goal game.
Minutes later Vella was knocked out of the game, and not long after the Grizzlies scored again to go up two goals.
They scored twice more on junior Micah Collier in the third period to close out the game 6-2. After a magnificent upset on Friday night the Wolves were shaken up after dropping this contest.
“We just have to shrug of this loss by getting back to work on Tuesday and continuing to work for the rest of the week,” said Knezek.
The Wolves will host Eastern Michigan on Friday night before traveling to the Taylor Sportsplex on Saturday for their last game before winter break.