Freshman forward James Sanchez’s goal came out of nowhere. One second, everyone was watching two Lake Superior State players pass the puck. The next, Sanchez had taken the puck from the pass and shot it into the Lakers’ net for the Wolverines’ third goal of the night.
This goal led to No. 16 Michigan avenging a 3-1 loss to Lake Superior State (7-6-0) on Friday. The Wolverines (5-5-1) turned the tables on the Lakers, cruising to a 4-1 victory Saturday.
The contrast between the first period of both games couldn’t have been stronger. Where the Lakers outshot the Wolverines on Friday (8-6), Michigan dominated the first period Saturday, 12-5. Friday, it took the Wolverines the entire first period to get into motion, but Saturday, it only took them four minutes to score their first goal.
One of the similarities between the two games, though, came from who scored that goal. Junior forward Tony Calderone scored both first goals — this time, though, the goal came four minutes into the first period, when a knot of Lakers and Wolverines formed in front of Lake Superior State’s goal. Calderone managed to push the puck into the net to put the Wolverines up, 1-0.
“Obviously, we lost a lot of scoring (last year), so someone’s gotta step up,” Calderone said. “I’m just trying to do my best to fill the role, but I know (those) are pretty big shoes to fill, but I’m trying my best and we’ll see how it goes.”
However, Laker forward C.J. Hayes canceled out Calderone’s goal with one of his own at the 15:17 mark. Diego Cuglietta brought the puck down the ice and close to the net on senior goaltender Zach Nagelvoort’s right, and passed it to Hayes on Nagelvoort’s left at the last minute to score the goal.
The second period featured the same intensity as the first, with no break from either team. Junior defenseman Sam Piazza attempted a goal with a clean shot directly in front of the net, but Lake Superior State goaltender Gordon Defiel denied it with his arm. Laker forward J.T. Henke came close to a goal as he wrapped behind Michigan’s goal to tuck the puck into the net, but overshot it in front of Nagelvoort instead.
It was finally senior defenseman Nolan De Jong who was able to break the tie off an assist from sophomore forward Brendan Warren. Warren snagged the puck and passed it to De Jong, who managed a clean shot directly past Defiel to push the Wolverines to 2-1 at the 9:16 mark.
Lake Superior State attempted to close the gap multiple times throughout the remainder of the second period, but with no luck. Laker forward Jake Hand brought the puck close to the net, but Nagelvoort made a quick glove save to keep the Wolverines’ one-goal advantage headed into the third period.
Like Friday, Saturday’s game boiled down to the final period. But this time, it favored Michigan.
Sanchez’s goal pushed the Wolverines to a two-goal lead, one that the Lakers couldn’t break. Sophomore defenseman Nicholas Boka also managed to replicate the Lakers’ empty-net goal Friday, as he scored one with 49 seconds remaining in the game. And with no additional goals from the Lakers, the Wolverines switched places with Lake Superior State to claim a 4-1 victory.
“We knew we had to rebound (from yesterday),” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “This would have been a really difficult weekend had we given this game up like we did last night. I thought our team played with more conviction and more purpose even though it was a tight game after one. I thought that was probably the best period we played all weekend, and then we got better as the game wore on. So I give our team credit for rebounding.”