By MICHAEL HOLZMAN, Staff Reporter
In a year where many University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey players were saying “nationals or bust,” the team’s first year as the Wolverines did not go as planned.
The season started out with the surprising resignation of coach Bobby Clouston, causing goaltending and assistant coach Chris Haltinner to be handed the reins shortly before the team’s first game.
Through its ups and downs, the Wolverines finished the season 20-22 with a 10-13 record in the Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League.
Juniors Ryan Kelly and Jase Paciocco led the team offensively with 27 and 26 goals, respectively. Freshman Derek Kessler scored nine goals, seven coming on power plays, and added 32 points for GLCHL All-Rookie team honors.
The team started off the season with a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy before being swept by the Midshipmen during opening weekend. In September, the Wolverines were 1-5, with their only win coming at home vs Rochester College near month’s end.
October would be much better for UM-Dearborn. After losing 8-0 to Oakland University to start the month, the team won four straight games, including a sweep of visiting University of Pittsburgh and a major road upset of Adrian College.
Struggles would return, though. The Wolverines went 1-3 the rest of the month, defeating only Kent State on the road. Come November, UM-Dearborn continued its battle to find consistency under Haltinner with a 2-5 record in the month.
Playing just three times before winter break, the Wolverines showed signs of improvement with two wins before being routed by Davenport 10-0.
Once the New Year arrived, the Wolverines had finally discovered the consistency they had longed for.
The team won 10 games in 2014, including a blowout against rival Eastern Michigan University in the opening round of the GLCHL Playoffs. An outdoor game against Oakland University, a highly anticipated event for the Wolverines, was cancelled hours before game-time due to poor ice conditions. The team ordered special jerseys for the event, which would’ve marked the second outdoor game in four years, but opted to use them come playoff time.
Some big changes await the Wolverines during the offseason. Five seniors have stepped onto the Fieldhouse ice for a final time. Among them include current captain Anthony Olson.
Paciocco will wear the C on his jersey next year. He and Kelly will lead a team filled with young talent and highly-touted recruits in what could be a long awaited breakout season.