A warm winning welcome


Sports Editor

After more than a month without hitting the ice to compete, the Oakland University Golden Grizzlies hockey team proved that scoring goals is like riding a bike — one never forgets.

OU (7-7-3 DI, 7-8-4 overall) overwhelmed Indiana University of Pennsylvania (9-8-0 DI, 9-8-0 overall) with a four-goal second period on Friday evening at the Onyx arena to take a 5-1 victory to kick off the 2009 half of the season.

With the score 1-1 after a period of play, OU freshman defenseman Joe Guenther scored his second goal of the game on a rebound just 1:15 into the second period.

OU head coach Sean Hogan admitted that he wasn’t sure what to expect after such a long break without a game, but was happy with the overall result.

“I was nervous coming into the game,” Hogan said. “I didn’t want it to be like starting over. We play a very individualistic game sometimes and, in the first period, I think we showed that — I don’t think we played that well. But in the second period we came out, we ran our systems.”

OU freshman goalie Alex Pikunas found that it took a while to get back into the groove.

“I haven’t had a game in over a month,” said Pikunas, “Practice can only prepare you so much. I thought I was jumping around a little bit out there. I was just really anxious to get out there but not too much damage in the first period. It could have been worse.” Pikunas finished the game with 16 saves and the one goal he allowed was his best mark of the season.

Even with the big victory on the scoreboard, Guenther said he thinks that the team is not quite back to its full potential after such a long break.

“I feel the team, we were a little bit rusty but we started to get it together and played a good game in the end,” Guenther said.

Senior John Parrish and freshman Jordan McDonald added two points each for OU; with a goal and an assist for Parrish and two assists for McDonald.

One facet of the game that OU continues to struggle with is the power play. OU went 0-5 with a man advantage against IUP.

“We’re not doing the right things on the power play,” Hogan said. “We’re almost a better team five-on-five. The problem is we’re not supporting each other on the ice. We’re not running our power play the way we run it in practice. It’s very, very frustrating for the coaching staff because we have an 11 percent power play, which is probably — if I had to guess — the worst in the ACHA.”

OU is currently ranked No.16 in the ACHA national tournament rankings, in which the top 16 teams make the tournament. Hogan made clear that they are closely watching where they are ranked.

“People say, ‘Oh we don’t watch the standings, we don’t watch the scoreboard’ but you have to,” Hogan said. “I’m a firm believer that you have to know what you need to do to be successful. You need to know when you need to win and how you need to win. So we’re very aware of where we are in the standings and we’re going to have to get higher.”