By HUSAIN BAZZI, Guest Reporter
A new season for the men’s ice hockey program began Friday night, and the group moved one step closer to a season-long goal of qualifying for the National Tournament with a two-game sweep over Navy.
“We’ve been doing team building exercises to bring the team closer together, but more importantly we hope to come out and put a good performance in,” said head coach Chris Haltinner.
This was apparent, as the team put on a notable offensive show during both games, scoring a combined 14 goals over the weekend.
Friday night’s matchup featured six different Wolverines putting numbers on the board, including a two-goal performance by sophomore Jeff McFarland. Freshmen Nic LaBurn and Tyler Groat also contributed.
Sophomore goalie Nate Ferris allowed only one goal, giving his team the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead, winning 7-1.
The impressive production continued Saturday night, with another seven goal performance, including two more goals for freshman LaBurn. Just like Friday, the six different Wolverines, including LaBurn, were able to score on Saturday, this time winning 7-4.
The big wins this past weekend reflect on a new attitude among the team as it searches for a Division I title and hopes to compete nationally.
“Anything less than (Nationals) will be a huge disappointment,” said junior David Bryant.
Last year, the team finished with an 18-22 record, losing 12 times to conference opponents. This year, the team hopes to rebound with a winning season, which not only develops current players but also gives the team a much-needed chance to be recognized nationally. With the addition of assistant coach Rick Desana, UM-Dearborn coaches are certainly pushing a “winning attitude” on the team.
“All the players respect (Desana) and it makes a difference because we trust what he says and what he plans for us,” Groat said.
The emphasis on trust and teamwork is important, not just in the eyes of the coaches but the players as well, thanks to Haltinner.
“He does a lot to change the attitude and culture of the team. Before he took over, it wasn’t as serious. I’ve noticed there’s been a lot of change in the past few years,” Bryant said.
“The morale of the team is the highest it has been since I’ve been here,” added junior Gino Darin.
The Wolverines will travel to Western Michigan to play another two-game set with the Broncos at Lawson Arena this weekend.