By AARIF MOHIE EL-DEEN, Wolves Hockey Beat Reporter
The Wolves put everything on the line against the Eastern Michigan Eagles before going on break for the holidays. Freshman Jeff Kuhary, along with the rest of the team, wanted nothing more than to dismantle the Eagles.
“This weekend we will roll over Eastern and leave green stains all over the ice,” said Kuhary before this past weekend’s games. On Friday night, they did exactly that. The Wolves dominated early and often and won the game 6-1.
The following night things got messy, gloves were dropped, goals were scored, and a comeback was cut short as the Wolves fell 5-4 at the Taylor Sportsplex despite scoring the last three goals of the game.
One player that’s been on a scoring tear for the Wolves, freshman Ryan Kelly, got the Wolves up 1-0 early in the game Friday night. It was his eighth goal and eleventh point in his last eight games.
Just minutes later, senior John Vella received a pass from captain Anthony Olson and took a rough angle shot. The rebound squirted out to a trailing defenseman who put the rebound into the back of the net. Defensemen Chris Merrill was credited with the first goal of his college hockey career—one that would stand out as the game-winner.
The Wolves continued their dominance in the second period. After hard work led to a two-man advantage, the Wolves sent out their top unit to increase their lead. Olson would end up scoring off of his own rebound after his initial shot was blocked.
The goal proved to be quite controversial as the puck just barely crossed the line before it was gloved down by Eagle goaltender Kevin Kissaw but the referee instantly signaled it as a good goal.
The play didn’t sit well with the Eagles as they started to make enemies with the Wolves’ top players, especially forward John Vella. He was inserted into the lineup just minutes before game time after suffering a bit of scary knee injury last week.
The power play continued to roll for the Wolves, as Olson would score his second of the game putting them up 4-1 in the second period.
The period was closed off with a great performance from freshman Max Dutzy between the pipes. With Vella in the box, the Eagles tried to come within two goals before the intermission but four consecutive saves from Dutzy, including a buzzer beating kick save kept the Wolves up by three.
Jeremy Klotz put the Wolves up by four before Kuhary, who was hungry to get at the Eagles all game, nailed the coffin shut with his seventh tally of the year.
The following night, junior Josh Khan started in goal for the Wolves. His stellar performance was put to no good use as the Wolves played a shaky 40 minutes before attempting a comeback in the third period.
Their only goal in the first two periods came early in the first from senior Casey McLogan after he and linemates Ryan Arndt and Nezar Habhab worked hard to get the Wolves up 1-0.
A fight at center ice highlighted the second period. Jacob Poynter and the Eagles forward both connected on a considerable amount of punches before the refs broke up the fight.
Unfortunately, the fight didn’t wake the Wolves up in time as they let in two more goals in the period and went into the third period down 5-1.
That’s when they began their miraculous comeback attempt. Junior Jase Paciocco scored the first goal just six minutes in. That was followed by a goal from Kelly who continues to score at crucial times for the Wolves.
The comeback hit a roadblock after the Wolves received two consecutive minor penalties, but it didn’t stop them from scoring.
Senior Alex McDonnell skated into the zone beating all the defenseman and fed forward Jimmy Marchese for the open net. Marchese’s shot missed the net but the puck came back in front for senior Rob Zubke who scored his team leading fourteenth goal of the season. The goal with 4:35 left was the last one of the game.
With Dutzy on the bench, the Wolves tried hard to tie the game but fell short. They outshot the eagles 21-6 in the final period for a total of 57-42 in the game.
They head into the break on a losing note. “We have to always look forward,“ said Kuhary. “I’ve already forgotten about the game. The most important play is the next one.” That next play will come in early January when the Wolves travel to Western Michigan to take on the Broncos before hosting Kent State the following week.