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DIII hockey wins first two rounds at national tournament


Juinor Forward Dalton Sutherland practices team drills during practice at the Isabella County Events Arena on Tuesday, December 5, 2017. 

Central Michigan Division III hockey has shutout opponents in goals — 21-4 — over the past two games in the American Collegiate Hockey Association National Tournament.

The Chippewas were selected to play in Pool A alongside George Mason University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Air Force Academy.

CMU won by at least an eight-point margin with a 9-1 victory over the George Mason Patriots and a 12-3 victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

With competition coming at a season-high, CMU hoped to prove it belonged in competition with the rest of the teams in the national tournament, said junior forward Dalton Sutherland.

“We wanted to prove we were one of the better teams here and to show we can play with anyone,” Sutherland said. “We were hitting on all cylinders which allowed us to play two really strong games and that gave us high scoring outputs.”

Outscoring opponents has been a statement the team was hoping to make, Sutherland said.

“It’s a testament to what we can do with all four of our lines playing great hockey and our defense playing well,” he said. 

Graduate forward Nathan Allgaier led the offensive charge scoring four goals against GMU and landing three goals against GIT.

“(Allgaier's) skating up and down the ice, with good hockey on both ends of the rink and he hasn’t really missed a scoring chance,” Sutherland said. “Every time he gets a chance, he’s making it happen. He’s probably our best goal scorer and definitely helping us win games right now.”

It’s been about sticking to what he knows when it comes to hockey, Allgaier said.

“If I came in and skated hard, played hard, how I know how to play, I knew I would find success against these teams,” he said. “And I’ve had a lot of help from teammates to let me have these types of games.”

The Chippewas look to keep their high level of play.

“With us playing extremely well, we’re excited to see how the next couple of games go,” Allgaier said. “(We’ll) play tomorrow and then semi-finals and finals. Everyone’s focused, everyone’s going, we just got to stick with it.”

CMU should expect the best competition they’ve seen all season, but CMU has prepared for this all season, Allgaier said.

“We’re starting to taste what we wanted all season, making us play like we’re gunning for a national championship,” he said. “We know we’re going to get every teams best and they know they’re getting our best, but we are three games away from getting what we’ve wanted all season, so it’ll be hard to stop us.”

CMU will compete in its third round of hockey against the winner of the Air Force vs. George Mason at 5:30 p.m. March 15 at Chiller North Ice Rink in Columbus, Ohio.