By ERICK LEHMAN, Staff Reporter
“It’s definitely a monkey off my back.”
Those were the words of joy uttered from the mouth of University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey head coach, Chris Haltinner after his Wolverines finally earned an elusive win against daunting Adrian College.
The Wolverines played spoiler, handing the third-ranked Bulldogs their first loss of the season in a 5-4 overtime upset Friday.
James Marchese buried the game-winning goal two minutes into overtime to complete the hat trick. His teammates mobbed him in the corner as he celebrated a relieving victory that snapped a seven-game skid.
“I was just wheeling down the ice, wanted to get a shot on net, saw an opening and took it,” Marchese said. “It feels great to finally beat Adrian. I can’t stand them guys, we’ve had our battles against them. It feels so much better getting a hat trick against them.”
The game-winning goal would not have been possible if it weren’t for the late game heroics from defenseman Derek Kessler.
Down 4-3 with 1:40 remaining in the third period, the Wolverines called a timeout to plan for a last-minute comeback.
“Zarbs definitely took control of that timeout,” Kessler said. “It was the guys getting together, we knew we could do it.”
The Wolverines exited timeout with an extra attacker in place of goaltender Nathan Ferris.
After losing the faceoff, the Wolverines were able to regain possession. Kessler was able to fire off a shot from the point, which found its way through the bodies out front and into the back of the net. The game was tied at 4-4 with one minute remaining.
“Puck just went to Kessler. He let a shot go, it found its way through everyone up front and into the net,” Haltinner said.
“Urso made a great play to keep the puck in, turned to go towards the middle, and all I saw was Adrian players,” Kessler said. “I just fired it and saw the guys out front go nuts.”
All the scoring for the Wolverines Friday evening came from both Marchese and Kessler. Each scored one goal in the first period.
Things went in a bit of a different direction for the Wolverines in the second period, allowing two goals to the Bulldogs to keep the game tied heading into the third.
Marchese scored his second of the night just 42 second into the third to give the Wolverines the 3-2 lead.
After that goal, Haltinner yelled to his team from the bench, “Is that enough to win it, boys?”
It was not, but the battle-tested Wolverines were not settling for another home ice loss to these Bulldogs.
Adrian scored to tie things at 3-3 just three minutes later and took a one-goal lead, with just over six minutes remaining in regulation. But the Wolverines were able to right the ship for an overtime victory.
The game was very physical overall, with both teams unleashing some major checks throughout the entire game. It was obvious both teams were not fond of each other.
“We slipped up a little bit, but stayed pretty disciplined most of the game,” Haltinner said. “I thought we kept our composure.”
Kessler was a major part of the checking throughout the game, laying some big hits on the Bulldogs and just nagging them as they entered his zone.
“I’ve been working on using my body more, I try to get the guys going,” he said. “So if I can throw a good body check or two to get the team going I’m happy.”
The Wolverines stay at home this weekend as the Robert Morris University Eagles come to town. Friday and Saturday’s games both begin at 7:30 p.m.