By ERICK LEHMAN, Staff Reporter
Follow @ELehman29History will be made for two teams on Jan. 3 as rivals Oakland University and The University of Michigan-Dearborn face-off at Clark Park in Detroit for a Winter Classic-type outdoor game.
The Wolverines (14-13) look to take down The Golden Grizzlies (12-12) in the team’s first of two series this season.
As of Dec. 22, The Wolverines are ranked 20th in the ACHA, while the Grizzlies are 22nd, setting the stage for a showdown for two teams vying for national tournament contention.
“We can’t take a night off, can’t take a shift off, we need to be ready to play at all times,” Wolverines head coach Chris Haltinner said. “Gordie does a great job with the guys over there, they’ll be ready to play for sure.”
This will be the first outdoor game in Oakland hockey history, and although the Wolverines have played outdoors before, the excitement and anticipation is still there.
“Everyone is real excited, it’s a big game, and it will be a lot of fun,” Haltinner said. “The guys are really anticipating it, they have a small break now, and can’t wait to get back on the ice.”
Oakland and UM-Dearborn play a similar schedule, so both teams have skated with the same competition this season, beating, and sometimes losing to the same teams.
Oakland is 4-2 against teams this season whom the Wolverines have swept, those teams include Indiana Tech and Eastern Michigan.
Oakland is also 5-3 against teams the Wolverines have split with, those teams include Kent State, Western Michigan, and Rochester College.
The Wolverines have struggled to find success against conference powerhouse Adrian College, going 1-3 against the Bulldogs this season. Their opponent, however, was able to split with Adrian this season in four meetings.
The Wolverines will be welcoming a few newcomers to the team prior to the outdoor game.
Donnie Nagle, Bobby Domin, Andrei Novikov, and Sasha Hann will be joining the Wolverines as they push for nationals.
“We got the new guys coming in, everyone is real excited, we will have to see how long it takes them to get their feet wet,” Haltinner said. “We wish we had them all season, but coming in now, they can help us make a late push for nationals.”
The Wolverines will also be welcoming back a number of players who missed the Eastern Michigan series due to injury and illness.
After the series with Eastern, Haltinner said senior Jeremy Klotz would be returning from his shoulder injury.
Jeff McFarland and Ryan Urso missed the series due to illness, but will be good to go for the series against the Grizzlies.
The game is on Jan. 3 at 5:30 p.m. at Clark Park in Detroit.
Busses will be providing a shuttle service for Wolverine fans, after taking players and parents to Clark Park.
Once the players and parents are dropped off, busses will run constantly from campus to Clark Park up until game time.
The shuttle service is free, and admission to the game is $10 at the door.
Any student who wishes to use the shuttle service is to meet at the field house.
“We need all the support we can get,” Haltinner said. “Oakland is going to have a big crowd, and it will be a great scene, and a great time.”