By MICHAEL HOLZMAN, Staff Reporter
In front of a packed house Friday night with Athletic Director Dr. Ann Lampkin-Williams as well as members of Student Government on hand, the University of Michigan-Dearborn Wolverines were ready to prove that they are far better than their 2-6 record says.
Friday’s showing against the University of Pittsburgh proved just that.
In the first period, despite a few opportunities for the Wolverines to score, the lone goal came from Max Kilkuts of the Panthers making it 1-0 at the intermission. Less than two minutes into the second period, the Panthers would take a 2-0 lead with a shorthanded goal by Justin Delmaster who still made the goal despite being hooked by UM-Dearborn’s Jeremy Klotz.
“They got a couple good bounces, one was off a big turnover in front of the goal, led to a breakaway, goaltender Micah Collier said. “I mean a bounce here, bounce there, it’s a different game.”
After that, you could sense that the Wolverines were disappointed with the way the game had gone so far but they quickly turned it around.
About three minutes later, Ryan Kelly would get the Wolverines on the board after Derek Kessler’s shot trickled behind Panthers’ goalie Rob Behling. Kelly tapped it in on the power play to make it 2-1.
53 seconds later, Jeremy Klotz would tie it at 2-2 with an assist from Jeff Kuhary. The goals kept on coming for UM-Dearborn, with 8:49 to go in the second period Jase Paciocco would beautifully fake out Behling to give UM-Dearborn the lead.
With 4:05 to go, Paciocco would add a little insurance as well with a Wayne Gretzky-style wrap around goal to put the Wolverines up 4-2 at the end of two.
In the third period, the Wolverines would just dominate the Panthers out on the ice.
Just over a minute in Pittsburgh would be on a breakaway and Micah Collier, still starting for the injured Max Dutzy, slammed the door shut. Collier did not allow a single goal for almost two whole periods.
Finally, the win would be wrapped up by captain Anthony Olson on the power play to put Dearborn up 5-2 and that would be the final.
After the game, Wolverines coach Chris Haltinner was satisfied with the win but certainly hoped for a much faster start from his team.
“We’ve seem to find ourselves down early in games against opponents we shouldn’t be, Haltinner said. “We dominated the first five minutes and I told the guys to just keep your heads up, just keep plugging away and we need to get back and the guys rallied. I told them the next goal is huge and we got the next goal and we just kept going from there and the guys worked really hard, they wanted this win tonight and they deserved it.”
“I thought we started out real slow, that kind of kicked us,” added Jase Paciocco, who shared the same feeling as coach Hatlinner, but was also was thrilled with his two goal and one assist performance.
“We came out in the second period, we had a chip on our back and we really got in there,” said Paciocco. “My linemates really helped me out with my two goals, they kept me going they kept the speed up and our team kind of built momentum in the second period and we just got all over them and felt real confident.”
UM-Dearborn would have another home game against Pittsburgh Saturday night in which they turned up the heat even more, scoring 7 goals for 7-3 victory and their very first sweep of the season.
Despite getting swept by Navy and Adrian to start the season, the Wolverines have now won four of their last six games and are really beginning to show everyone just how good they can be.
Next week features three games in a row, starting Thursday at Adrian. They then host Mercyhurst College Friday night at the Fieldhouse and finally face Adrian again on Saturday night in Dearborn.
These three games could be great opportunities for the Wolverines to make their mark and maybe even climb back into the national rankings if they win all three.
The Wolverines certainly have a lot of work ahead of them this week.