PLYMOUTH, Mich. — Matt Kelly’s first shutout in more than two years propelled Wayne State past Alabama-Huntsville, 4-0, Saturday afternoon in a College Hockey America rivalry game seen by 484 at the Compuware Sports Arena.
The last time Kelly’s line had zeroes in the goals allowed column was Dec. 28, 2002 when as a freshman in just his second-ever start, he made 36 saves in WSU’s 7-0 win over Princeton at the Rensselaer/HSBC Holiday Tournament.
“I just felt really good and got in a groove,” said Kelly. “I was in a zone and just felt like no one could beat me. The puck pretty much looked like a beach ball out there.”
With the win, the Warriors (14-15-4, 7-8-4 CHA) tie Niagara for third place pending the result of NU’s game Saturday night against Robert Morris.
John May got WSU rolling at 3:02 of the opening period. Jared Ross carried into the WSU zone, but his pass went off May’s stick to Dan Iliakis. May gathered a pass in the neutral zone and fed Iliakis, whose initial shot was turned aside by Chargers goalie Scott Munroe. But May crashed the net and banged home the rebound.
Wayne State made it 2-0 when Tylor Michel went untouched in front of Munroe and re-directed an Adam Krug centering pass past Munroe. While taking the pass, Michel was cross-checked in the back by David Nimmo, but still found the back of the net.
Alabama-Huntsville started to unravel in the third period, taking several undisciplined penalties. Todd Bentley got a five-minute major for elbowing Michel at 7:04 and it was downhill from there.
“Wayne State played physical and aggressive,” said UAH head coach Doug Ross. “We played scared. That’s all.”
Stavros Paskaris scored on a 5-on-3 at 11:26 as his blast from the top of the right circle beat Munroe over the shoulder and Nate Higgins added an empty-netter at 19:04 to seal the victory. After he scored, Higgins was drilled by a UAH defenseman into the side of the empty cage, but no penalty came of it.
“We knew coming in that Huntsville had six guys — two D, the Ross line and Munroe — who account for a lot of their offense,” WSU head coach Bill Wilkinson said. “We shut down that top line and were patient, disciplined and played great defensively. I always preach that defense creates offense, not offense creates offense. We did that and Kelly barred the door for us.”
Munroe stopped 29 shots for the Chargers (16-9-4, 13-5-1 CHA).
The Warriors look to finish .500 with a 2:00 p.m. rematch against UAH tomorrow afternoon.
“Huntsville will come out with a vengeance and the boys know that,” added Wilkinson. “There’s going to be a will to win on both sides.”