By Jack VanAssche, Editor-in-Chief
The University of Michigan-Dearborn hockey team had trouble early on against No. 16 Davenport in a home-and-home weekend series, but the No. 8 Wolverines found a way to pull away with two big wins on both Friday and Saturday.
Friday, for the first time in seven weeks, the Wolverines returned to the UM-Dearborn Ice Arena and treated fans with free pizza and a thrilling shootout victory.
The No. 8 Wolverines overcame an early deficit to top No. 16 Davenport University, 6-5, in a shootout.
Marcus McSweeney landed Davenport (11-10-2) goalie Jason Rhynold on his back and finished with a gorgeous goal in the first round of the shootout, which ultimately proved enough for the Wolverines’ (16-4-2) win.
McSweeney tried to stay calm after netting a big shootout goal in front of a rowdy home crowd.
“It was really great,” he said. “You definitely gotta try to keep it even, but it definitely feels good. Especially that (goal), because it’s all focused on you.”
Forward Tyler Groat was one of many on the UM-Dearborn bench that gave McSweeney some love for the impressive score.
“That was fantastic,” Groat said. “We all know he’s got some skill, but any time you see a move like that, it gets the bench fired up and I think it kind of led into Tom (Proudlock) making some stops to end it there.”
But the Wolverines didn’t start as hot as they finished.
The Panthers nabbed an early 2-0 lead after goals from Luke Cowan and Walker Aurand in the first period.
“We knew it was gonna be a grind,” said UM-Dearborn coach Chris Haltinner. “You gotta have your lunch packed every time you play (Davenport).
“It’s great for fans, terrible for the coaches.”
Penalties aided the Wolverines’ comeback, as they scored four goals in the second period–three on the power play.
Kyle Schnettler scored early in the frame to cut the deficit to 2-1, but Davenport’s Sam Basich restored the Panthers’ two-goal lead just minutes later.
The Wolverines made use of their power play opportunities for the rest of the period, scoring two goals on the man advantage from Groat and Dunn.
“Obviously, we didn’t want to let them get out to that 2-0 lead,” Groat said. “But, I think the team showed a lot of heart in the second period. We played through the penalties, didn’t retaliate and made ‘em pay on the board.”
Groat put the Wolverines on top, 5-3, in the beginning of the third period with another power play goal, but Davenport wasn’t finished.
Center Alex Hulford scored a power play goal to bring the Panthers within a goal. Chris Corgan followed up just a minute later to tie the game at 5-5.
A scoreless overtime period resulted from strong goalie play on both ends. UM-Dearborn goalie Tommy Proudlock finished with 46 saves on 51 shots faced, including three big saves in the shootout.
“I’m just glad Tom was able to stand on his head as well as he does,” McSweeney said. “He was a rock.”
Saturday, the Wolverines scored four goals in the second period to overcome an early deficit and complete the sweep of Davenport with a 6-5 win.
UM-Dearborn climbed out of a 3-1 hole in the second period with goals from Dunn, Billy Brock, Andrew Palushaj and Groat.
Palushaj’s second goal of the night came in the third period and ended up the game-winning goal.
Thomas Proudlock made 15 saves to earn the win, while former Wolverine Nate Ferris took the loss after stopping 22 of the 28 shots he faced.
Freshman Sean McLaren scored his first collegiate goal in the first period for the Wolverines in the first period.
The win also marked the 100th in Haltinner’s career at UM-Dearborn.
Next, UM-Dearborn will take on Rochester College at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the UM-Dearborn Ice Arena.