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SEASON PREVIEW: No. 4 Wolverines open 2019-20 Thursday

SEASON PREVIEW: No. 4 Wolverines open 2019-20 Thursday

DEARBORN, Mich. – The 2019-20 season for the No. 4 University of Michigan-Dearborn men's ice hockey team opens with a matchup of two of last year's ACHA Division I national semifinalists as No. 2 Lindenwood University comes to town for a two-game series starting at 7 pm Thursday at the UM-Dearborn Ice Arena.

The Wolverines closed last season with a record of 30-4-1 overall and 9-1-0 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. UM-Dearborn won the WHAC regular-season championship and marched all the way to the ACHA national semifinal for the first time since 1992, where the Wolverines fell in double overtime to Iowa State University.

Several key pieces graduated from last year's team, including leading goal scorer Tyler Groat, two-year captain Kevin Bechard, and several other student-athletes, leaving holes for head coach Chris Haltinner to fill.

"Expectations for this season are extremely high," Haltinner said. "With last year's semifinal appearance and a double OT loss, we feel that we have some unfinished business going into this season. We have graduated some great student-athletes, but we feel very confident with our new additions to the team. We have new guys with a lot of skill, speed, and grit."

Returning for the Wolverines for his senior season is standout goaltender Thomas Proudlock, who was named to the All-WHAC First Team and ACHA Division I All-Tournament Team as a junior. Proudlock finished 2018-19 with a record of 27-3-1 in 32 appearances, with a 1.80 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.

The Wolverine offense will be led by senior, and newly-minted captain, Justin Dunn, who scored 27 goals and added 31 assists in 32 games last season. Junior Billy Brock will also be counted on to lead after recording a team-high 53 assists to go along with 17 goals last year. Haltinner has also named senior defenseman Kyle Schnettler and Proudlock this season's alternate captains.

"Our leaders have some big shoes to fill and expectations are high, but they wouldn't be in that role if we didn't think that they would excel at leading us both on and off the ice," Haltinner said. "Last year it was all hard work and attention to detail. We need to continue that this year."

The series with Lindenwood will be a strong test to start with the season opener Thursday followed by the annual Homecoming Game at 7 pm on Friday. A pregame tailgate will take place with FREE food at the South CASL Field adjacent to the UM-Dearborn Fieldhouse starting at 5 pm.

UM-Dearborn opens the WHAC season against Concordia University Oct. 11-12 and will travel to conference rival and No. 22 ranked Indiana Tech Oct. 18-19. A two-game series at No. 6 Ohio University is scheduled for Nov. 1-2, while a home-and-home series with No. 5 Adrian is set for Dec. 5-6. The late-season schedule includes a home series with No. 9 Davenport University on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, while Senior Night will take place against Rochester College on Feb. 21.