CMU eliminated from ACHA Tournament in semifinals
After Central Michigan’s Division III hockey team’s crazy finish in their 7-6 win against Aurora University on Thursday, the Chippewas were headed to the semifinals of the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s National Tournament.
The dream ended on Friday, as the Chippewas fell to Oakland University for the fourth time this season by a score of 4-0.
The Chippewas lost their other three meetings with Oakland in the regular season 6-0, 5-4 in overtime and 10-0.
“They took away our shooting lanes,” said Head Coach Tyler Cataline. “But we didn’t play with an offensive mind. We concentrated on playing defense first. We played a great game and I couldn’t be more proud of these 22 men.”
After a scoreless first period, the Golden Grizzlies scored two minutes into the second period.
The score was still 1-0 heading into the final period of play, but Oakland was able to put three more goals on the board.
"Oakland is definitely one of the better teams we have played all year, if not the best," said junior defenseman Brendan O'Malley. "They are solid all around."
After the loss, Cataline says he was very thankful for the seniors that were a part of the team.
“After the game I told all of my seniors thank you,” Cataline said. “Some of them have played CMU hockey for five years. I’m proud of my seniors. They were great leaders and great men. They are leaving this program in great hands.”
Leading the team in points during the tournament was senior forward Nolan LeClaire with five points, two of those being goals and three being assists. Right behind him with four points — all goals — was senior forward Nate Allgaier. Four players were tied with three points. Senior defenseman Cody Ferris led the team in penalty minutes with 16. The next closest player had eight.
With Oakland winning, they will move onto the ACHA National Tournament Finals and play the winner of Calvin College and Aquinas College. CMU went 2-0 against Calvin in the regular season and went 0-2 against Aquinas.
For a year where the DII and DIII teams merged together, O'Malley says that's how he'll remember this team the most.
"We started off as two teams and came together as one," O'Malley said. "Guys that were complete strangers at the beginning of the season came together and ended up being one of the closest group of friends I have ever had."
Even with the semifinals loss, Cataline thinks next year could be better.
“(Making it to the semifinals) builds our program,” he said. “It’s going to help our recruiting.”