Detroit, Mich — In his last seven starts, Wayne State Warriors backup goalie Will Hooper didn’t have a lot of offensive support from his teammates-ten goals total. That changed on Saturday night, as Wayne tallied six goals to defeat the Robert Morris Colonials 6-3 at the Michigan State Fairgrounds.
Although Wayne State (5-13-4, 2-5-3 CHA) won the game handily, there appeared to be two different sets of teams on the ice: the dominant Warriors, who showed up for the first and third periods; and the dominant Colonials, who were the stronger unit in the second period.
Wayne State owned the game early on thanks to a goal from Nate Higgins, who took a cross-ice pass from Jason Bloomingburg to light the lamp just 31 seconds into the game. The Warriors extended their lead to two at 9:36 of the period when Derek Bachynski notched his third goal of the season; he beat Colonials goalie Christian Bouchard on a clean breakaway.
When Warrior forward Derek Punches went to the box for high sticking contact to the head, Robert Morris took advantage of the situation to get in the game. After scoring a goal that was disallowed because the net came loose, the Colonials made their next chance count. Jason Towsley muscled through a crowd in front of the net to bang in the puck and put Robert Morris on the board. But Wayne State continued to dominate the period, and Warrior Jason Baclig picked up a pass from Mark Nebus, sending it dribbling past Bouchard to close the first stanza.
The Colonials refused to go down easy and asserted their presence early in the second period. Doug Conley blasted a shot past Hooper at 1:16 of the period to pull the Colonials within a goal. Chris Margott tied up the game when Warrior offensive threat Nate Higgins was charged with a five-minute major for hitting from behind, coupled with a ten-minute game misconduct. While Wayne State managed only two shots on net, Hooper’s performance kept the game from getting away from the Warriors.
“Hooper played strong in goal when we needed him, especially killing off the five-minute major,” said Wayne State head coach Bill Wilkinson. “Even though he allowed one goal, I think he was still very effective.”
Wayne State regained their energy in the third period, starting with Bachynski stuffing in his second goal of the game to get back the lead for the Warriors at 1:55 of the third. Three minutes later, Stavros Pakaris sent a quick pass to Jason Bloomingburg for Bloomingburg’s seventh of the season. And as the physical intensity of the game heightened-eventually resulting in a four-on-four contest-Baclig and Taylor Donohoe set up Mark Nebus to put the icing on the Warriors’ victory cake.
Colonials head coach Derek Schooley expressed frustration at his team’s inconsistent performance: “We played one of three periods,” he said. “We were very good in the second, but we gave up too many easy goals.”
The Warriors will aim to be more consistent as well. Hooper praised his teammates’ performance, but said they were displeased with their second period results.
“It’s all about putting sixty minutes together,” he said.
Robert Morris (5-15-2, 2-7-1 CHA) is idle until January 31st when they face Princeton in non-conference action. Wayne State remains in Detroit next weekend and will host the University of Alabama-Huntsville.