OU Div. I Hockey opens season

The Oakland University Div. I hockey team opened their regular season with a two-game series this past weekend in Rochester, starting the season with a win and a loss.

The Onyx Ice Arena hosted the two-game series between the Golden Grizzlies club hockey team and the Liberty Flames on Friday and Saturday nights.  The Flames defeated Oakland 4-1 in the first game of the series, but Oakland won in a shootout 3-2 on Saturday. The series is the first of two for the regular season between these teams.

Goalie Matt Toter, who played the last 26 minutes of the first game and the entirety of the second game, had once been a member of the Liberty Flames, a Virginia based team.

“It’s fun to see the old guys I use to play with but, you know, it’s really not my old team to me.  It’s just kind of another team,” said Toter, who had seven saves and no goals allowed in the first game.

“We had a lot of selfish play, we weren’t passing the puck like we should have or getting the puck deep,” said Jordan MacDonald, forward and club president.

MacDonald was one of the team’s leaders in points last season, and said he felt as if he didn’t play to his potential in the first two games.

Flames forward, Andrew McCombe, scored the first goal for his team early in the second period of the game, which set the tone for the rest of the night, favoring the visiting team. Forward Billy Balent scored Oakland’s only goal.  The next night proved to be in the Grizzlies favor.

“Our expectations remained the same throughout the weekend,” said Head Coach Jeremy Bachusz. “We wanted to play a simple game and stick to our systems.  We fell apart a bit in the first game and paid for it, however, we were able to come together the second night and pull of a win. Being able to put the first night behind us was a big step for our team.  It provides us with the confidence to continue on a winning path.”

Forward Frank Matyok scored both the opening goal for the Grizzlies as well as the final game winning goal in the shootout.  Macdonald made the first goal in the shootout to keep his team in the game.  Toter followed by allowing no goals when the Flames took their shots next.  Forward Alex Hoffman made the next goal for the Grizzlies, with Matyok following with his game winning shot.

Also aiding in Oakland’s win was Defenseman Jacob DeSano, who had two assists in Saturday’s win.  DeSano was a key player last season, making it to both the All-Star game and All-American team.  He shares the same aspirations as his teammates; not only to make it to the Nation Championship and win, but to also win the ‘Good Luck Duck’.

“The Good Luck Duck is a series we play with Davenport,” Bachusz said.  “The rivalry goes back many years.  Whoever wins the series gets to keep the duck for the next season and paint it their school colors.  The team that has won the duck the last four years has one the national championship.”

The next series takes place Friday, September 30 at University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Saturday, October 1 at home, where the Grizzlies will continue their path to the National Championship.