The Wolverines were looking forward to their first home game and first division game last Saturday but inclement weather not only postponed the game, but forced its relocation. This meant on Tuesday the Wolverines had to get on a bus and head to Michigan to play their first division game as the away team. The forecast for the game also contributed to a less than ideal situation for the players with temperatures in the high 20′s with 15 mph winds bringing wind-chill into the equation. Those conditions were not too different than the Grove City weather the team has been practicing in, so they did their best to put the elements out of their mind and focus on executing the game plan.
Ryan Althausen won the opening face-off and the Wolverines were able to set up a couple of good looks at the cage but were unable to capitalize. This would set the tone for the first quarter as both teams went back and forth trading possessions without scoring. The game was still scoreless at the end of the first quarter. The home team would draw first blood with goals by midfielder Spencer Macek and attackman Nathan Woods. Despite feeling like they had the better overall run of play, the Wolverines now faced a two goal deficit. “We knew that our offense wasn’t going to stay quiet the whole game and we felt like we could shut them down the rest of the way, so we just tightened up defensively and kept trying to get the ball back to our offense”, said Junior Chris Dymski. The Wolverines would have a couple late chances to put a goal on the board, but Sophomore goalie Ryan Mailloux held strong and the Saints entered halftime with 2-0 lead.
The Wolverines went into halftime goalless, but feeling good about their defensive effort in the first half and with a man advantage to start the second half. The optimism quickly left the visiting team as they committed a quick turnover to start the second half and then conceded a penalty of their own to give the Saints a man advantage. The man-down unit would kill the penalty, but consecutive slashing penalties on Ryan Althausen would give the Saints another man advantage for two minutes. Once again, the defense held strong to keep the score 2-0. The Wolverines finally broke their goal draught on a finish by Dan Casselli and Dave Hall would add another one to tie the score up heading into the final quarter.
The final quarter was a defensive showdown with the teams remaining deadlocked through the first 12 minutes before Dan Casselli scored to give the Wolverines their first lead of the game with 2:56 left on the clock. The Saints would not go down without a fight, however, and the defense would face a furious attack in the final minutes of the game. Ryan Colby was called for a slash with 58 second remaining in the game which meant the man-down unit would have to hold strong to prevent over-time. The Saints were able to generate a couple shots on the man-up but they sailed left of cage. After calling a time-out with seven seconds left, the Wolverines survived the final rally to hold on to the 3-2 victory.
Goalie Chris Dymski made 7 saves (77.8%) and Ryan Herman led the defense with 6 groundballs for the Wolverines. On the other side goalie Ryan Mailloux 12 saves (80.0%) to lead a strong Saints defense.
On a night where a lot of things went wrong, the team was proud to come away with tough win. “Every division game we played last year was decided by one goal so we knew coming in it was going to be a tough game. We didn’t win pretty, but in the end we demonstrated a total team effort by the defense holding strong and the offense continuing to pound away until we had the lead” said Junior Ryan Althausen. The win improved the Wolverines record to 5-1 (1-0 in the division) on the season. They head to Indianapolis on Friday to play #20 ranked Washington-St. Louis.