Heartbreak overtook the UM-Dearborn hockey team on Monday night, as the No. 2 Wolverines were upset in double overtime of the national semifinal by No. 5 Iowa State University, ending their season.
In the opening minutes of the second overtime period, a walloping slapshot from the blue line was scorched a few feet wide of UM-Dearborn goaltender Thomas Proudlock, but the shot was tipped with the toe of Colton Kramer’s stick and landed in the back of the net to give the Cyclones a 3-2 win.
Proudlock, one of the top goalies in the ACHA this season, fell to a knee as teammates skated by to console him, while underdog Iowa State stormed the ice to celebrate their berth in the ACHA national championship game.
“Devastated,” Wolverines coach Chris Haltinner said. “It’s a rush of emotion. It’s everything– it’s anger, it’s sadness. What’d I do right? What’d I do wrong? And you just question it. So it’s hard.”
It was just the fifth loss of the season for the Wolverines (30-3-2), which spent much of the season near the top of the ACHA rankings. They were the heavy favorite to meet up with the winner of the second semifinal game between Lindenwood and Minot State for a chance at a national championship.
As time melted off the clock in the third period, it began to feel as if the Wolverines would do just that.
UM-Dearborn held a 2-1 lead over Iowa State (16-11-3) after two goals from senior forward Tyler Groat in the first period answered an opening goal from Iowa State’s Trevor Sabo.
Captain Kevin Bechard appeared to put the Wolverines up 3-1 at the start of the second period, but the goal was reviewed and overturned because of goalie interference. The insurance goal the Wolverines so desperately needed was wiped from the board.
And with just three minutes left to play in regulation, Iowa State took advantage, tying the game at 2-2 as Nicholas Sandy poked in a rebound following a shot from Max Olson was blockered aside.
On the other end of the ice, Cyclones goaltender Matt Goedeke recovered well after letting two goals in from Groat in the first period. The 6-foot-4 goaltender stopped every shot from the second period onward, amounting to 63 minutes of shutout hockey. Goedeke finished with 24 saves on 26 shots.
He was tested in the first overtime period, when Groat shoveled a backhand shot over the shoulder of Goedeke but pinged the post, leaving UM-Dearborn mere millimeters from a national finals appearance.
Proudlock, who finished the regular season with a .938 save percentage, ended his season by stopping 22 of the 25 shots he faced in the semifinal.
For seniors Kevin Bechard, Tyler Groat, Tyler Dalton, John Barlow, Troy Saunders, Andrew Spiegel and Christian Ramage, the heartbreaking loss marks an end to their hockey career at UM-Dearborn.
Haltinner said there was not much to say in the locker room after the loss. “It was kind of an emotional time for not only the players but the staff as well,” he said.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to coach. It makes it so hard to close the book on this group,” Haltinner said. “I would love to have coached those guys for the rest of my life.”