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Notebook: Wolverines finally punished for late-game collapse

Allison Farrand/Daily
Freshman forward Tyler Motte will tangle with his older brother, CJ, the goalie for Ferris State, on Wednesday. Buy this photo

By Erin Lennon, Daily Sports Writer
Published December 9, 2013

Last weekend, Ohio State completed two comebacks against the No. 3 Michigan hockey team — one at Yost Ice Arena to send the game into overtime, the other in Columbus facing a 4-1 deficit in the third period.

Perhaps the Wolverines, who fought back to win both contests, love drama.

“It’s nice that we’re on the winning side of (one-goal games) most of the time, but it’d be nice to blow out a team every once in a while,” said senior defenseman Mac Bennett on Monday.

On Thursday night, the Wolverines (2-0 Big Ten, 10-2-1 overall) completed their fifth overtime contest of the season — the third at Yost. Though the exhibition against the U.S. National Team Development Program had no reflection on its record, Michigan dropped its first game in overtime to the visible dismay of sophomore captain Andrew Copp. After the game, Copp was noticeably frustrated, his arms folded across his chest.

“It’s kind of sickening,” Copp, a former player, said.

The late-game collapse — in which the NDTP erased the Wovlerines’s 4-2 lead with less than two minutes remaining in regulation — is all-too familiar for a team that has had 10 of its last 11 games decided by one goal. And though Michigan has outscored opponents 15-3 in the first period this season, its trademark to allow early leads slip away is troublesome.

DON’T BLAME DWYER: Though it doesn’t count, redshirt junior goaltender Luke Dwyer made his first-ever save in a Michigan uniform on Thursday night against the NDTP — the first time Dwyer saw the ice in four years with the program.

But in just over five minutes in the third period and overtime, the Ann Arbor native surrendered a decisive three goals.

After the game, junior forward Alex Guptill made a request.

“Print this,” he said. “Dwyer is the definition of a Michigan man. He’s earned the opportunity to get out there, and we were really happy for him. Hopefully, he looks back at this and laughs.”

The NTDP’s three goals came off what Copp called “the tail end of a string of mistakes.” The second, which tied the game with 23 seconds remaining in regulation appeared to be goalie interference.

“He’s one of those kids that our team is excited to see play, but they didn’t go out and help him,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “The goalie can’t win the game himself, so it was tough.

FINALS FATIGUE: When Michigan takes on No. 4 Ferris State on Wednesday in the thick of finals week, it will be missing one Wolverine due to a scheduled economics exam. Though Berenson would not specify which player would be absent from the lineup, he expressed frustration with the time conflict.

“I understand that they have to take the exams,” Berenson said. “But that doesn’t help the team. There’s no question that they’re really focused on schoolwork. We’re playing at home, and that’s why we don’t play the next week.”

The Wolverines will play their final game of the semester during the midst of finals week, and are feeling the pressure in the classroom as much as on the ice. Though classes officially end Wednesday and the earliest finals are scheduled for Friday, most papers will be due before game time.

“For me personally, it’s tough,” Bennett said. “I have a 10-page paper due and an exam. There a bunch of guys who have papers due and exams this week, so it’s hard.”

MORE THAN ONE MOTTE: Freshman forward Tyler Motte will play in front of 100 of his closest friends and family on Wednesday when Michigan takes on the Bulldogs.

Ferris State enters Wednesday’s contest as the WCHA leader, riding a nation-best 13-game winning streak behind junior goaltender CJ Motte — Tyler’s older brother.

Standing just 6-feet tall in the net, CJ is 13-0-2 in 15 games this season and boasts a .925 save percentage. Meanwhile, Tyler notched his second assist of the season against the NTDP, his former team, on Thursday and has tallied five goals this season.

“For me, it’s just another game,” Tyler said of the matchup. “(CJ) will have the same mindset. He competes hard every day. He’s been known as undersized, but he’s made up for it. He’s performed all three years that he’s been there so far, so it will be a tough task for us.”