DETROIT, Mich. — For most teams, tie games come three, maybe four times a season. For the Wayne State Warriors the tie scores have come become common place. The latest deadlock came at the Fairgrounds Coliseum in Detroit on Friday night as the Warriors skated to a 2-2 tie with the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers.
The Warriors (5-13-5, 2-5-4 CHA) have skated to three tie scores in their last five games, and this may have been the most frustrating as the Green and Gold carried a 1-0 lead into the third period.
“We’d like to have gotten the win and it’s disappointing”, said Warriors head coach Bill Wilkinson. “We couldn’t seem to get it done on the power play and credit their goaltender (Scott) Munroe as we couldn’t seem to get anything into the back of the net”.
Wayne State got the scoring started at 7:45 of the first period on a rare miscue from Munroe.
With the Warriors holding pressure deep in the Chargers zone, Nate Higgins fired a shot from the right face off circle that Munroe let get away. Freshman Derek Punches swooped in as the puck came to rest almost on the goal line and tapped it for the first score of the evening.
“It doesn’t get much easier,” said Punches. “My eyes just lit up and it was an easy in. We’ve had a lot of ties though in the last few weeks and we really wanted the win. We have to get a full 60-minute game in and then hopefully, we’ll dominate.”
Punches fourth goal of the year was his third in the last seven games.
The Warriors did dominate early in the game as their one-goal lead held up through the first all the way into the third period.
Alabama-Huntsville (11-8-2, 7-3-1 CHA) came out a different team in the final twenty minutes of regulation and finally started to move the puck around.
Chargers freshman Josh Murray got his team on the board with a nice five-hole goal that eluded Warriors goalie Will Hooper at the 3:14 mark. Tyler Hilbert set up the play, feeding Murray who flicked the low shot in for his fourth of the year.
Wayne State used a nifty solo effort by Jon Grabarek to get back on top at 5:37 of the third. Grabarek knifed down the center of the ice and curled to the top of the right face-off circle where he fired a hard wrist shot into the top of the net to make it a 2-1 game.
The first year scoring continued for the Chargers at the 13:42 mark as Matt Sweazey popped in an easy power-play goal which was set up nicely by Steve Canter.
Just seven seconds after Warriors defenseman Steve Kovalchik went into the box on a shaky hooking call, the Chargers won the face off in the Wayne State end. Canter walked the puck all the way across the goal line to the net, forcing Hooper to go down. When he did, Canter slid a quick pass to Sweazey who banged it in for the final score in the game.
The two teams battled hard into the extra five minutes of overtime, but some stellar saves on both sides prevented either squad from taking the advantage.
The Warriors were let down with gaining a single point, but the Chargers were pretty happy with their comeback.
“It was a tough, low scoring game,” said Chargers head coach Doug Ross. “We got a little more aggressive in the third and it’s good to get a point on the road. Any time you get a point on the road against a good team like Wayne State, that’s a good thing for your guys.”
Hooper earned first star honors with 33 stops in the game, including six in overtime. Munroe picked up the second star with 28 saves on the evening.
Punches picked up the third star for Wayne State.
WSU was stymied again with the man advantage, going 0-for-7 on the power play. UAH finished the night with one goal on nine power-play attempts.
Wayne State and Alabama-Huntsville will conclude their two-game set with a 7:05 p.m. face off back at the Coliseum on Saturday night.