By MICHAEL HOLZMAN, Staff Reporter
Over this weekend, the ACHA Great Lakes Showcase was held at the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Fieldhouse. The annual showcase featured several teams from across the state, including Wayne State, Grand Valley State, Saginaw Valley State, Western Michigan, and Eastern Michigan, as well as Ohio’s own University of Toledo.
Unfortunately, the home ice advantage could not do a whole lot for the UM-Dearborn Wolverines hockey team. They started off Friday night against the Wayne State Warriors, who just two weeks ago split a series with the Wolverines that saw a blowout win at home and an overtime loss on the road.
A fast start wouldn’t be enough for the Wolverines in this one, as they’d fall to Wayne State 3-2 in overtime.
“We came out pretty hot and we were doing things we wanted to do but then it kind of fell apart after we came into the third period,” Paciocco said. “We kind of got comfortable there and they took advantage of our mistakes there.”
The first 20 minutes of the game were scoreless, but there were certainly no shortage of penalties. Both teams were in the box multiple times during the first period.
The first goal came early in the second period from Jase Paciocco after the puck bounced several times off goalie Brennan Knoblock. Paciocco tapped it in to make it 1-0.
After that, things would quiet down all the way into the third period. With 13:09 to go in the game, Joe Colletti tied it during a 4-on-4 caused by Jeremy Klotz and Alex Schmitt both getting penalties for shoving on the last play.
With 11:39 to go, Jay Kastely would give the Warriors their first lead of the night with a goal, putting Wayne State up 2-1.
But just like in the first period, penalties would start to hurt the Wolverines.
“You know penalties are a problem, it has been, (but) if we stay out of the box we can beat teams like this,” Wolverines coach Chris Haltinner said. “We played down to their level today. We’re a much (better) team than we played tonight. Our guys know it, I know it, the fans know it. We just got to bounce back, come ready to win and we got to win these next two games. There’s no excuses.”
“(There were) a couple of defensive breakdowns and stupid penalties will cost you every game,” Nick Crowley added. Crowley and Paciocco are now leading this team with Captain Anthony Olson out indefinitely until he gets a MRI.
It wouldn’t take long for UM-Dearborn to answer, though. 19 seconds later Derek Kessler would tie it with an assist from Ryan Kelly. It would take more than 60 minutes to settle this one as the game would go into overtime. But just about a minute before, Paciocco would get a controversial penalty that would give Wayne State a short power play to start overtime.
“It happens, but I didn’t think it was a penalty,” Paciocco said. “But we just got to work with it. Our team’s got to go out there, we got to kill it off and that just didn’t happen tonight.”
The Warriors would jump right on that opportunity, taking only 22 seconds for Colletti to get his second goal of the night to win. Due to the 4-on-4 overtime rule, the Wolverines only had three men on the ice. With the win, the Warriors advanced to face Eastern Michigan in the finals Sunday night.
“It’s unacceptable,” Haltinner said. “It’s a shutdown by our guys. You got to just come together and the thing is you know it’s a late call. It’s unfortunate, but you can’t do anything about it and we just got to come ready to play tomorrow.”
Goaltender Zach Mielen finished the game saving 29-of-32 shots.
“Zach (Mielen) played out of his mind, but we kind of let down late in the game,” fellow goaltender Micah Collier said. “Late penalties are going to cost us, penalties the whole game are going to cost us you know. I guess that’s just how the cookie crumbles.”
Unfortunately Saturday night was not much better for the Wolverines. UM-Dearborn lost 8-2 to the Central Michigan Chippewas.
They were, however, able to bounce back with a 9 to 3 win Sunday afternoon over Toledo. In Sunday’s game, Jeremy Klotz had a hat trick while Ryan Kelly scored four goals. The two were the only goal scorers for UM-Dearborn in the first two periods, despite having a 5-1 lead at the second intermission.
Kelly would score the last two of his four goals in the third period. Paciocco and James Marchese would add to their 7-2 lead late in the third, although Toledo would score with 1:17 to go.
The Wolverines have two more games before their winter break; a home game Friday against Davenport before heading to Grand Rapids to play the Panthers on their campus.