Players await the puck drop during the Wolverines first home game of the season. (Brianna Frisch/MJ)
Players await the puck drop during the Wolverines first home game of the season. Photo courtesy of Brianna Frisch.

By MICHAEL HOLZMAN, Staff Reporter

The University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey team returned to Southeastern Michigan for their first home-and-home series of the season.

Adrian College, a bitter rival of the Wolverines, came to Dearborn Friday night for UM-Dearborn’s home opener.

There were some changes in the fieldhouse crowd, something the team lacked in the past and hoped would change this season.

Thanks to The Union, there were a few more students on hand. There were plenty of people sporting the University of Michigan-Dearborn Wolverines t-shirts that the team recently gave away.

For the first 20 minutes of the game, it was apparent there was something different about this team than previous Wolves teams, besides the mascot.

Exactly 90 seconds into the game, Cody Longuski, sporting his new 55 jersey, put the Wolverines up 1-0 with assists by Chris Merrill and Jase Paciocco.

Later, with three minutes to go in the first period, team captain Anthony Olson scored on the power play to make it 2-0 for the Wolverines. The score would hold going into the first intermission.

The home crowd was excited and Adrian head coach Dan Phelps was absolutely stunned by being down two early in the game.

One parent was amazed, saying she had never seen UM-Dearborn lead Adrian before. The Bulldogs, a divisional powerhouse, were No. 1 for most of last year, but stumbled late in the season.

Unfortunately for the home crowd, the Wolverines couldn’t hold on to their early lead.

Adrian tied it at two apiece, the first coming 79 seconds into the second period off a score by Chris Derochie, the other with three minutes to go in the second by Logan Blackwell. They would take the lead two and a half minutes into the third period with a goal by Paul Conte.

“We came out strong in the first (and) got complacent in the second,” said Olson. “A bounce here and a bounce there, it’s a completely different game.”

With under a minute left, Wolverines’ head coach Chris Haltinner wisely pulled goaltender Max Dutzy for the extra attacker, but an empty net goal by Ryan Bachman with 13 seconds left in the game sealed the 4-2 victory for Adrian.

“We came out strong in the first (and) got complacent in the second,” said Olson. “A bounce here and a bounce there, it’s a completely different game.”

If the Wolverines are able to play consistently for 60 minutes, Haltinner likes his team’s chances.
“We need to play like we did in the first period,” said Haltinner. “In the first period we were all over them, we killed some penalties and we tripped in two goals. If we can continue to play like that and we cannot get relaxed or dazed in our zone then we can win.”

“I thought we played hard at the beginning there; we came out flying, popped a few goals in on our own,” added veteran Jase Paciocco. “We came out a little sluggish in the second and they popped one in and we kinda fell apart.”

Nick Crowley also felt the team played hard, but was hoping for a win since it was his twenty-first birthday Friday night.

Saturday afternoon, the Wolverines took a tough 8-2 loss in Adrian, a place the team struggled in historically as the Wolves. Olson and Jeff Kuhary scored the only two goals for UM-Dearborn.

The Wolverines will look to get their first win of the year this weekend in a home-and-home series against Rochester. They play in Dearborn Friday night before traveling north to Rochester Saturday.