By MICHAEL HOLZMAN, Staff Reporter
There was anxiety on the faces of both the fans and the players of the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s hockey team at the fieldhouse Friday night.
After falling to 0-4 against two teams ranked in the top 15 in the nation, the Wolverines were looking to get that critical first win against another winless team: the Rochester College Warriors.
The fieldhouse was packed throughout to witness the Wolverines win their first game of the season.
“It’s a big relief,” coach Chris Haltinner said on his team’s first win as Wolverines. “It’s a big weight off our shoulders, it’s a monkey off the back per se. I’m extremely proud of our guys, they worked really hard today. It’s something we needed to get the ball rolling.”
Less than four minutes into the game, the Wolverines got on the board with a goal by Ryan Kelly, assisted by Jase Paciocco and Andrew Shalawylo.
Paciocco and Kelly weren’t done yet.
Eight minutes into the second period, Paciocco put the Wolverines up 2-0 with assists from Kelly and Nick Crowley.
The Wolverines faced a similar situation last Friday being up 2-0 but couldn’t hold on for the win.
But early in the third period, the Wolverines immediately showed they would not make the same mistakes this time.
Kyle Horn ripped a shot from the blue line that got by Warriors’ goalie Zakk Olvin on a pass from Ryan Ardnt and that would make it 3-0 Wolverines.
Finally they put the icing on the cake, with 35 seconds to go, Ryan Kelly got his second goal of the night with Paciocco and Jeff Kuhary assisting him and that would do it, the Wolverines won 4-0.
Despite that, Haltinner was expecting a bit more out of his team.
“Tomorrow we got to come out and we got bury them right away,” said Haltinner. “I want to get our third and fourth line more into the game and I’d just like to see our first and second lines produce more.”
“It’s good,” said Ryan Kelly on his two goal and three point performance, “it’s pretty nice I had a little break there where I wasn’t in the lineup and it’s nice to get back in and start contributing and help the team out.”
On the other side of the team was Micah Collier. Making his season debut, Collier stopped all 28 shots sent his way for his first shutout since the 2010-11 season and second of his career.
“It was pretty good,” said Collier. “It’s been my first one in a while and I was happy with how I played.”
“I’m a real big fan of Micah (Collier), he battles every day, he’s a role guy, he’s a goalie that anyone would love to have.” Haltinner said.
With Collier’s performance, Haltinner now has a tough situation on his hands at goaltender. But just five games into the season, there’s no goalie controversy for the Wolverines.
“He’s (Collier) happy whether he’s playing or he’s not,” said Haltinner. “I would love to give him more time in the net, right now he’s battling for the two-spot between him and Mielin behind Dutzy right now. Max Dutzy has performed to the best, so as long as Max keeps healthy, he’ll battle for that and Micah is giving him a good push right now.”
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Rochester was looking for payback and sent the game into overtime Saturday night. The Warriors wound up winning 4-3 to split the series.
The Wolverines will be looking for their first road win of the year Friday against the division leading Oakland Golden Grizzlies before returning to play them at home Saturday night.