By Jeremy Summitt, Daily Sports Editor
Published February 14, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS — Every time the No. 10 Michigan hockey team cracked open the door in Friday’s game against No. 2 Minnesota, it was quickly slammed shut.
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A barrage of sudden momentum swings characterized the first meeting in three years between the two teams, as the Wolverines stumbled out of the gates toward a 5-3 loss at Mariucci Arena.
“We know they’re good — we just let them play,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “They were much better than us in the first period. We should be able to play in that kind of fast-paced game, and eventually we did, but we got ourselves down early.”
The Wolverines (6-4-1-1 Big Ten, 14-8-3 overall) couldn’t regroup after their slow start, and three goals from the Gophers in the second period proved too much to overcome. Minnesota (9-2-2, 20-4-5) showcased its balanced attack with five goals from five different players — four of whom were freshmen.
Forward Hudson Fasching found himself on a breakaway just 1:19 into the middle frame and slipped the puck between the legs of sophomore goaltender Steve Racine. Then, it was forward Taylor Cammarata who found the back of the net on another breakaway at 9:51.
“The goals against, most of them we give them credit for,” Berenson said. “We made the mistakes that were just a flat-out giveaway, and you can’t do that against a good team.”
Cammarata’s goal came just six seconds after sophomore forward Andrew Copp put Michigan on the board during its first opportunity with the man advantage. Copp hunched over and let out emphatic fist pumps with both hands, but his nose might as well have been touching the closed door after Cammarata’s quick response.
“You try to keep an even keel in the game, but that was definitely something that I kind of went ‘Come on,’ ” Copp said. “It's a tough break to let them go down and score right away.”
Michigan was almost able to find an answer with five minutes remaining in the second period, but the same door swung shut again. Senior forward Derek DeBlois looked to have slipped the puck past goaltender Adam Wilcox, but video replay showed the puck stayed on the line before being cleared by Minnesota.
Six seemed to be the magic number for the Gophers, as forward Seth Ambroz redirected a shot from forward Sam Warning just six seconds into the Minnesota’s seventh power play of the night. But only one minute later, freshman forward JT Compher roofed a shot from the left circle to cut Michigan’s deficit to two.
“We didn't have a doubt in our mind that we could come back,” said junior forward Zach Hyman. “During the second intermission, we said we were going to come back, and we came close."
At 2:51 of the third period, Hyman translated conversation into conversion, scoring his fourth goal in five games to pull Michigan to within one. But it couldn’t muster another tally during the final 17 minutes.
The Wolverines’ comeback attempt fell just short after rebounding nicely from a putrid first period. With 4:39 to play in the game, forward Gabe Guertler scored the first goal of his young career to close the door, turn off the light and finally put Michigan to rest.