By JACK VANASSCHE, Sports Editor
The University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey team will begin the first round of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Men’s Division 1 National Tournament on Saturday night against No. 8-ranked Robert Morris-Illinois.
Puck drop will be at 8:15 p.m. EST at the OhioHealth Ice Haus in Columbus, Ohio.
In January, the Wolverines swept the Eagles at the UM-Dearborn Ice Arena with a 2-1 shootout victory in the first game and a 4-2 win the following night.
Since the end of that series, Robert Morris has gone 4-6, including their league playoffs where they fell to No. 5 Iowa State in overtime.
Having won nine of their last 10 games, the Wolverines enter the national tournament in Columbus, Ohio, as the ninth seed.
Last week, the Wolverines claimed their second straight Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League (GLCHL) playoff championship, capped off by a 6-2 win over Adrian College. Adrian entered the tournament with just one regulation loss; good for the top seed in the league and No. 2 in the nation.
Sophomore forward Tyler Groat has been a major contributor to the Wolverines’ success in 2016-2017, as he enters the national tournament with 30 goals. His success on the ice this season was recognized earlier this week when he was announced as the GLCHL Most Valuable Player for the 2016-2017 season.
Groat has been hot of late, as he scored nine goals in three games for the Wolverines in the league playoffs. However, he did not score a goal in UM-Dearborn’s two games against the Eagles this season.
Attempting to slow Groat and the UM-Dearborn offense will likely be redshirt sophomore Cole Semchak. Semchak is 15-6-4 this season in net, allowing an average of 2.5 goals a night and has stopped nearly 92 percent of the shots he has faced this year.
Chris Mallon is also available in net for the Eagles, although the redshirt sophomore got less playing time than his classmate this year. However, when Mallon has been in net he has averaged just 2.04 goals allowed per game.
For the Wolverines, Thomas Proudlock has been the hero in net of late by emerging as a star in his sophomore season. His save percentage of .929 ranked third in all of the ACHA, and he has won 15 games in goal for the Wolverines this year.
The winner of the game will move on to face No. 1 Minot State on Sunday night at 8:00 p.m.
A link to the live stream of Saturday night’s game can be found at athletics.umdearborn.edu