Officially, Wednesday night’s game between No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Ferris State at Yost Ice Arena will be recorded as a tie, 2-2. But to the Wolverines, it felt like much more.
After both regulation and overtime ended, freshman forward Alex Kile scored on a “Forsberg” move — deking one way and sliding the puck into the opposite side of the net, as popularized by former NHL star Peter Forsberg — and Michigan emerged victorious from a seven-round shootout that counts for nothing more than a tie in the standings.
“I think this team’s got something going,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “Our team bends, but they didn’t break.”
The Wolverines and Bulldogs have played 101 times and every year since 1981, but Wednesday marked the first time they met while both were ranked in the top five of the USCHO poll.
Staring at a one-goal deficit with less than six minutes remaining in regulation, defenseman Brandon Anselmini pulled the Bulldogs (10-0-2 WCHA, 13-2-3 overall) even. His wrist shot from the blue line made its way through the legs of a teammate and past freshman goaltender Zach Nagelvoort’s near side as Ferris State tied the game at two and sent it to overtime.
“I couldn’t see anything,” Nagelvoort said. “That one was my fault. I just lost the puck.”
Earlier, Michigan had claimed the lead in a dominant second period. After the Wolverines (2-0-0 Big Ten, 10-2-2) lost possession on a rush in the offensive zone, junior forward Alex Guptill collected the loose puck between two Ferris State defenseman and flicked it into the net with a wrist shot just 38 seconds into the frame.
“It wasn’t a great shot,” Guptill said, “but it was a good shot to get rid of it quick.”
But Michigan couldn’t find twine again in regulation or overtime, and Anselmini’s tally forced the tie.
“Michigan should be able to score more than two goals in 65 minutes,” Berenson said.
Despite a first period dominated almost entirely by the Bulldogs’ strong forecheck, the teams traded goals less than two minutes apart.
Ferris State struck first on an odd-man break after senior defenseman Kevin Clare’s turnover at center ice. Forward Kyle Schempp blew by Clare, kept the puck on a two-on-one and fired a weak backhand that snuck by Nagelvoort.
The Wolverines responded 80 seconds later. Freshman forward Tyler Motte dumped a pass behind the net to linemate Andrew Copp, and the sophomore flung the puck into the slot. It deflected off a Bulldog and past goaltender CJ Motte — Tyler’s older brother.
Ferris State outshot Michigan in the first frame, 14-4, and had myriad opportunities to take a lead into the intermission.
“They came out and really handed it to us in the first period, but we escaped,” Berenson said.
Tyler nearly took matters into his own hands against his sibling late in the second period, but the goaltender made two saves on a breakaway. The forward also went first in the shootout but again couldn’t beat CJ.
After completing a long slate of games against some of the best teams in the nation, the Wolverines settled for a victory-like tie to end the first half of their season. But the result was enough for the young squad to carry some momentum into the holiday break.