By ERICK LEHMAN, MANAGING EDITOR
The weekend started out strong for the University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey team, and confidence was high after the first day of the ACHA National Tournament.
The Wolverines saw Syracuse upset Illinois, and Mercyhurst nearly take down Delaware in the first two games of the tournament, and head coach Chris Haltinner was admittedly nervous headed into the first round game against Navy.
The reason for worry was naught, however, was the Wolverines easily took care of Navy as Nate Ferris anchored his team to a victory, earning the shutout.
UM-Dearborn was able to get two goals from Andrew Palushaj, as well as goals from Jeff McFarland, Kevin Bechard and T.J. Zak in the winning effort.
The Wolverines took the win over Navy 5-0 and the confidence of the team was sky high headed into the second round matchup against defending national champion Central Oklahoma.
The confidence lasted most of the first period of the second round game, and then the wheels fell off.
Palushaj continued his hot streak for the Wolverines, scoring a goal midway through the first period to give his team a 1-0 lead.
The pressure the Wolverine offense was able to put on the Bronchos was quickly put to rest, as Central Oklahoma scored two goals in the last two minutes of the first period to take a one goal lead into the intermission.
The wheels began to fall off from the Wolverines at that point.
The Wolverines committed 49 minutes of penalties in the second period of a chippy game, including three players being tossed from the game.
Nic LaBurn was ejected for an egregious slash, McFarland was ejected for “abuse of the officials,” and Troy Saunders was sent out for deliberately clearing the puck into the Central Oklahoma bench.
The Wolverines allowed three goals in the second period and three more goals in the third period, as they were on the penalty kill for a vast majority of both.
Players, fans and coaches were upset about the officiating in the game, as lack of post-whistle calls early in the contest allowed for the game to get out of hand.
Haltinner was unavailable to comment after the game.
The Wolverines finished the season with a 22-5-4 record on the season, and won the GLCHL conference playoffs.
Last season the Wolverines finished 18-22, and lost in the first round of the conference playoffs.