FORT WAYNE, Ind.— The University of Michigan-Dearborn men's hockey team returned to action by taking part in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference playoffs, entering as the No. 2 seed. After receiving a first-round bye, the Wolverines took on the Aquinas College Saints Saturday in the semi-finals, who defeated the Cleary University Cougars 3-2 in overtime the previous night to advance.
UM-Dearborn would jump out to a two goal before the Saints would respond with one late in the first period, followed by another in the opening minute of the second. The Wolverines would retake the lead, however, Aquinas College would again claw back adding two of its own to take a one goal lead. UM-Dearborn would get crucial goal late in the second to tie the game in the closing seconds of the second period.
After a scoreless third, the game would need overtime to decide a winner. Senior Mathieu LaForest would complete his hat-trick just 49 seconds into the extra period and send his team into the WHAC finals.
Billy Brock would open the scoring up midway through the first with Brendan West getting the lone assist. Mathieu LaForest would get his first of the night just five minutes later with Brock assisting. Aquinas College would get the next two to tie the game, however, LaForest would add his second of the night from Brock, putting the Wolverines back up one. Once again, the Saints would strike twice, this time taking the lead, but Adam Groat would knot things up at three before the end of second from West and LaForest. The game would head to a sudden-death overtime where LaForest would get his third goal of the game with West completing the play-maker, giving UM-Dearborn the 5-4 overtime win as they would advance to WHAC Championship Game against the No. 1 seed Indiana Tech Warriors after shutting out the Concordia University Cardinals, 3-0, in the semi-finals.
Against the Warriors, the Wolverines would jump out in front five minutes into the game as Jared Lee would connect on the power play with Mathieu LaForest continuing his strong play, getting the lone assist. The UM-Dearborn lead would be short-lived as Indiana Tech would respond just 13 seconds later. The Warriors would bust things open by scoring twice in the second and three times in the third, handing the Wolverines a 6-1 in the WHAC Championship.
Kayden Pickles would get the start in both games over the weekend, earning the win against Aquinas College in the semi-finals with 31 saves on the night. Pickles would take the loss, making 16 saves in the championship game against Indiana Tech before being relieved by Tanner Beals stop nine of the 11 shots he faced.
The two games move UM-Dearborn to 20-10-2 overall on the season.
The Wolverines will now wait to see if they will qualify for the 2022 ACHA National Tournament in St. Louis, Missouri with final rankings coming out this coming Wednesday. Please refer to achahockey.org or athletics.umdearborn.edu for more information.