By MICHAEL HOLZMAN, Guest Writer
“We are Wolverines” — it’s a phrase that has been buzzing around the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s fieldhouse over the last few weeks as the athletic department begins its first year with the Ann Arbor campus’ mascot.
Bobby Clouston resigned this offseason after coaching the team for the past two years. The sudden change caused Chris Haltiner, the team’s goaltender coach and former International Hockey League goalie, to become head coach.
However, even with a last minute coaching change, the expectations for the inaugural UM-Dearborn Wolverines hockey team could not be much higher.
“I think we have a team that can get to nationals and do some damage, said Wolverines’ new head coach Chris Haltiner. “We have a lot of returners, a lot of good guys.”
Almost all the players feel this team can make nationals. Even a run at the ACHA title, something the Wolves have never done before after their runner-up finish in 1992, isn’t out of the question.
“I won’t cut my hair until we are eliminated from nationals,” said junior center Ryan Arndt.
Even before taking the ice for a game, the UM-Dearborn hockey team has already benefited from the Wolverines name.
“I think this [name change] is what the university needs, a breath of fresh air for us,” said Haltiner. “The changes that are being made are the right ones for this university to move forward in athletics.”
“The Wolves are the Wolverines now and the school is much more supportive,” added junior center Jace Paciocco.
Despite the uniforms being made to look more like Ann Arbor’s last year, Haltiner declined to comment on whether or not we will see the trademark wing on Dearborn’s helmets like the Ann Arbor CCHA team.
“I can’t make any comments on that yet,” said Haltiner. “That’s something that has to be discussed with [University of Michigan athletic director] Dave Brandon. There are certain things we still want to keep a part of ourselves a little bit from Ann Arbor.”
The new captains should be familiar to those who have followed the team over the last few years. Anthony Olson will serve as captain, while Nick Crowley and Jace Paciocco are both assistant captains.
Another big storyline surrounding this team is the recruiting class, which has been touted as one of the best in years. The team received upgrades at defense and goaltender through these recruits, but all eyes have been fixated on the Wolverines’ net.
“We revamped our goaltending, that was an area we struggled in,” said Haltiner. “We have two new goalies coming in, so we’re excited about it.”
Those two new goalies are David Brian and Zach Milan. Brian used to play for the Florida Eels in the Empire Junior Hockey League, while Milan is a former NCAA D3 goalie.
The Wolverines open their season September 13 and 14 in Maryland against no. 17 Navy.