(Amber Ainsworth/MJ)

By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief

Tyler Dalton was thinking about it all day.

It was hard to do homework or sit through class. He struggled falling asleep the night before.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey team’s home opener was on his mind, and it was hard to shake it. Dalton’s parents made the trip from Cleveland to Dearborn on Friday, which was his first game at the Fieldhouse.

“It really is something special to play here and it’s hard to put into words,” Dalton said.

It took six games for Dalton and his fellow freshmen to make their Fieldhouse debut. UM-Dearborn played the first month of its season on the road, making stops at Annapolis, Md., Kalamazoo, Mich., Buffalo, N.Y. and Niagara, N.Y.

UM-Dearborn posted a 4-1-1 record on the trip, but returned home Friday to host rival Oakland University.

“As a player you can’t think about it too much, but in all honesty, it’s rough,” Dalton said. “Being on the road is, I think, (it’s) an understatement. When you go from Annapolis, Maryland, and then you play at Western (Michigan), and then you go to Buffalo, New York, those aren’t short road trips and that’s a lot to digest. That’s a lot of Applebee’s, that’s a lot of T.G.I. Fridays, that’s a lot of sleeping on cots for rookies. It’s tough, but we have a great group of guys. Everyone loves being on the bus together.”

“We got homesick… so it’s good to be home,” UM-Dearborn head coach Chris Haltinner added.

The atmosphere inside the Fieldhouse for UM-Dearborn’s home opener fueled the team to a 4-3 win over Oakland. The home section of the bleachers were packed to the brim with students and faculty for Greek Life night.

Players said they were pleased with the atmosphere, noting they feed off the energy from the crowd.

“The Maize Militia (student section) is something that I didn’t even know about,” Dalton said, “but that was one of the most exciting atmospheres that I’ve played in since (my) high school state championship game.”