By MICHAEL HOLZMAN, Staff Reporter
If you spent just one minute inside the fieldhouse Friday night, you would have seen a very rare sight: bleachers filled with extremely energized fans to support the University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey team. As part of a campaign by the Student Activities Board, the most spirited fan in the crowd would win two tickets to an upcoming Detroit Red Wings game.
But in order for fans to be excited, the team has to put on a show for them.
The Wolverines did just that Friday night.
“The crowd was incredible, it gets everyone up on the bench,” Jace Paciocco said. “Everybody was excited and when we scored goals everybody was going wild. We love it. We feed off of that.”
“It helped us just over the top,” Wolverines coach Chris Haltinner said of the fan support. “If we can get that every night, it’s unbelievable, the fans can really boost you to wins and the guys loved it and that’s a great part of the game, one of the reasons we won tonight. The fans are absolutely fantastic here and if this fan support keeps growing this hockey team is going to do remarkable things, I have no doubt.”
Of course this game was against the crosstown rival Wayne State Warriors and plenty of their fans made the short drive to the fieldhouse to cheer them on as well.
The first period featured plenty of back and forth action, both on the ice and in the stands but it would be Wolverines captain Anthony Olson who would get the first goal nearly six minutes in off the backhand from Ryan Kelly Later in the first on a Wolverine power play, the Warriors would tie it with a shorthanded goal by Bill Coole.
It would stay 1-1 going into the second but after that UM-Dearborn would begin to drop the hammer.
With 17:26 to go in the second, Jace Paciocco, yes the one who was supposedly out 6-8 weeks, shot as he fell to get a power play goal with Nick Crowley and Olsen on the assists to make it 2-1.
“Yeah, I mean it’s painful, but I was cleared by all the doctors at Michigan,” Paciocco said. “They said I could continue playing as long as I could grip my stick there so I felt I was ready to go and my team wanting me in.”
But Wolverines coach Chris Haltinner isn’t concerned with any long-term effects regarding Paciocco’s injury going forward.
“No, it was a finger and he’s a hard worker, I wish I had 20 of (him),” Haltinner said. “He’s unbelievable, he’s a remarkable player, leads by example on and off the ice and he’s the guy in the lineup that can change the game and he did that tonight and he really helped our offense.”
20 seconds later, Jimmy Marchese would make it 3-1 with assists from Jeremy Klotz and Andrew Shalawylo.
A scary incident came with about 10 minutes to go in the second as Olson would go down with an ankle injury. He would be able to skate off the ice and that would be it for him.
“Unfortunately we got Olson back hurt, so that’s really going to hurt us there,” Halitnner said.
“It was almost circumstantial to the game he took a blow to the knee there,” Paciocco added. “He’s been nursing an injury there and we want him to heal all the way but with a lead like that up 6 to 1 we didn’t really need him in the play at that time so his rest is needed so he can join the play tomorrow and hopefully he’ll be ready to go.”
With around 7:30 to go in the second, Jimmy Marchese would get his second goal of the game to make it 4-1, chasing goalie Trevor Sattelmeier to the bench for Wayne State. Backup Brennan Knoblock would take it from there.
Knoblock did not get off to a great start however. Seconds after coming in, Mike Payne would score with assists from Tim McQuillis and Ryan Ardnt to make it 5-1.
Paciocco would then get his second goal of the night with 3:54 to go with Ryan Kelly getting the assist to make it 6-1.
Wayne State would try to mount a comeback with their captain Robert Adam scoring with 49 seconds left in the second to end the period down 6-2. Then with 17:04 to go in the game, Ryan Ronowski would make it 6-3.
With 2:15 to go, Ronowski would go head first into the boards and would not get up. It took the referees at least five seconds for the refs to stop the play, with fans on both sides screaming, leading to a verbal confrontation between one ref and Wayne State head coach Frank DiCristofaro Sr. Despite the craziness at the end, the score would stay the same, Wolverines would win 6-3 and improve to 8-12 on the season.
After the game, Haltinner was impressed with how his team did through the first 40 minutes, but like any coach, he could not stress enough how important it is to play the whole game.
“I feel we played 40 solid minutes, I feel we didn’t play the full 60, we kind of softened up a bit in the third and that’s unacceptable,” Haltinner said. Beating a team 6-3, they’re ranked 24 and we’re trying to get in, we have a shot for nationals and we can’t have goals like that late in the period. Also on top of that we also have to make sure we manage ourself and stay disciplined, no penalties and complete a whole 60 playing this week, any team can come back.” On Olson’s status for Saturday he said, “It was almost circumstantial to the game he took a blow to the knee there, he’s been nursing an injury there and we want him to heal all the way but with a lead like that up 6 to 1 we didn’t really need him in the play at that time so his rest is needed so he can join the play tomorrow and hopefully he’ll be ready to go.”