Ferris State made it clear from the first puck drop that a repeat of Thursday was not in the cards for the Michigan hockey team.
Despite an indisputably different game, the Wolverines yet again entered the third period searching for a hero. And with both teams netting a goal in the final period of regulation, Michigan left it still needing an answer as to who that would be. And it needed one fast.
But it never found one.
After an interference was called on what would have been freshman defenseman Quinn Hughes’ closer under a minute into overtime, the Bulldogs got the puck back, and just a minute later scored on sophomore goaltender Hayden Lavigne for the third time of the night.
In the course of a minute and a half, Michigan went from celebrating what it believed was a win to falling heartbreakingly, 3-2, to Ferris State (3-6-1) for the first time since the 2014 season. The Wolverines (5-3) —who almost doubled the shot count of the Bulldogs Friday night — had to settle for a series split and broke their undefeated home streak at Yost Ice Arena.
“You just got to refocus,” said junior forward Cooper Marody. “It’s part of the game. Regardless of what we think happened, whether it should or shouldn’t be a goal, it wasn’t a goal. So we have to refocus and go back to what we are having success with. Unfortunately we didn’t get the result we wanted.”
In the beginning, it didn’t look so grim. Michigan, for the second night in a row, wasted no time to get on the scoreboard.
Just over a minute into the first period, Ferris State forward Mitch Maloney received a penalty for hooking, and the Wolverines made quick use of their man advantage. Marody demonstrated persistence after his first shot from the right side of the crease was blocked by the Bulldogs’ goaltender. Moving across to the left side, he got his own rebound, and this time set the puck into the lower left corner of the net.
Despite this leverage, Michigan in no way held a comfortable lead. And because of this, it was only a matter of time before Ferris State fired back.
Seven minutes later, the Bulldogs — who had been outshooting the Wolverines the entire period — launched a flurry of on target shots at Lavigne. Ferris State freshman Coale Norris took the fifth of these shots, and cranked in the equalizer that the netminder couldn’t stop.
Throughout the rest of the period the teams played neck and neck, with attacks at full force fighting to regain an edge. With just over two minutes remaining in the period, Michigan saw its last scoring opportunity of the period on a power play. But the Wolverines’ efforts were fruitless, and Michigan anxiously left the ice tied up at its first intermission with a team they had blown out the night before.
When the teams returned from the break, the desperation still showed. The second period was characterized by a rushed, back-and-forth game with neither the Wolverines nor Ferris State gaining much momentum. Michigan took just 11 shots in the stanza while the Bulldogs launched just five.
One aspect of the game that did resemble the night before was the Wolverines’ sluggish attack during a majority of the second period. A late offensive surge of five shots in the final four minutes of the second gave Michigan a glimpse of hope, but Ferris State goaltender Justin Kapelmaster stifled each opportunity.
Exactly seven minutes into the third, the Wolverines were able to grip a lead again. In the final seconds of a power play, wide open senior forward Dexter Dancs charged up the left side of the rink, received a pristine pass from Marody and one-timed it into the net.
The Wolverines became reenergized in the third after Dancs netted the go-ahead goal, putting Michigan up, 2-1. But the Bulldogs soon halted this elation, as four minutes later Maloney knocked one past Lavigne, tying the game yet again. In the final eight minutes of regulation, neither team was able to close, sending the Wolverines to an overtime they in no way could have anticipated.
“We were a little soft in our zone on their second goal, the tying goal, defensively,” said Michigan coach Mel Pearson. “We have to engage a little bit harder, a little bit more aggressive, but we didn’t. And then they got a quick pass and a goal.
“I liked our third period, I can’t tell you we had a poor third period, but we just have to finish. We had great chances and it’s going to bother me watching the game back and watching the missed opportunities.”
The end result looked starkly different between Michigan’s Thursday’s rout and Friday’s unexpected loss to Ferris State. But when it came down to execution, the main difference between the two games was the Wolverines’ ability to close.
“We have to finish, we have to put the team away,” Pearson said. “We did that last night and we couldn’t do that tonight.”