By: RICKY LINDSAY, STAFF REPORTER
Riding a four game losing streak, the University of Michigan-Dearborn Wolves looked to turn the tide with hopes of an appearance in the ACHA Men’s Division 1 Nationals on the line. With only six games remaining in the regular season, redemption was supposed to come in the form of a home-home series against the Davenport Panthers.
The first game took place at the UM-D Fieldhouse, where the Wolves are 11-7 on the season. Penalties harmed the Wolves from the start, although the Panthers were not able to take advantage on several power play opportunities.
The Panthers struck first on a goal by freshman forward Andrew Frank, silencing the home crowd. Minutes later, freshman forward Alex Ostrowski found the net on assists from freshman forwards Travis White and Stephen Flood, giving the Panthers an early 2-0 first period lead.
The Wolves brought the game within one after a Brian Kassa slap shot took a bounce off Panthers freshman goalie Matt Kaludis’ padding and into the net. Momentum appeared to be on the Wolves’ side at last, but a stoppage of play at 2:45 remaining in the first period due to a hole in the ice ended any opportunity of retaining the gained momentum.
The score remained 2-1 Panthers throughout most of the second period. With minutes remaining in the second, Frank and Tyler Quigley, the freshman forwards, both scored, giving the Panthers a 4-1 lead heading into the third period.
The Panthers carried the momentum as they entered the third period, scoring two goals. Quigley netted the first one to increase the Panthers’ lead to 5-1, while Mason Bohlinger sealed the deal minutes later with his goal.
The Wolves desperately tried to turn the game around, even replacing goalie Josh Khan with Micah Collier with 13:19 remaining in the game. The Wolves responded with the change, when sophomore forward James Marchese scored off the setup by senior forward Matt Knezek.
Senior forward Rob Zubke brought the game within three after finding the net off junior forward Anthony Olson’s assist. However, the offense found rhythm too late, as the Wolves weren’t able to keep their momentum going, falling to the Panthers 6-3.
Wolves sophomore forward Jeremy Klotz said the team never gave up in the third period. “We got down 6-1, and we had to battle back,” said Klotz. “To make Nationals, we got to battle, [and] got to win games.”
Although the Wolves lost, Klotz liked his team’s chances.
“I don’t think we got outplayed,” said Klotz. “They just capitalized on more chances than we did.”
The Wolves looked for redemption at Davenport after a tough loss at home. The Wolves, however, would have no answer for the Panthers’ dynamic scorers.
Panthers sophomore forward Dustin Wischmeyer found the net first off assists by sophomore forwards Zack Blumke and Josh Munford. Flood started the second period with a goal assisted by Frank. Seconds later, freshman forward Matt Ogden scored the Panthers third goal of the game.
Defensemen John Brooks and Cody Walsh assisted Ostrowski as he closed out the second period with a goal, giving the Panthers a commanding 4-0 lead.
Ostrowski would go on to score the next two goals, completing the hat trick and putting the game out of reach for the Wolves. Munford added the Panthers’ seventh goal minutes later, and Blumke and Phil Wendecker closed out the game with their shorthanded goals.
The Panthers went on to crush the Wolves, 9-0. It was only the second shutout on the season for the Wolves, both coming in consecutive weeks.
With the two losses, the Wolves fell to 20-15 on the season. With only three games remaining, an opportunity for the Wolves to play in the nationals looks slim.
The Wolves return to action in the final weekend with a home-home series against rival Eastern Michigan. Both games start at 7:30p.m. You can catch the action at Taylor Sportsplex on Friday and the UM-D Fieldhouse on Saturday.