In the middle of the second period, with Michigan down two goals to an unheralded Wisconsin hockey team, pandemonium broke out at Yost Ice Arena.

Four players were in the box, junior defender Michael Downing was being scolded by an official for trash-talking the Badgers players across the scorer’s table and the Wolverines had lost control.

Michigan’s upperclassmen mustered a tremendous effort to win in a shootout, 7-6, but it was a frantic game in which neither side kept command for long. The shootout victory will earn the Wolverines an extra point in the Big Ten standings, but will count as a tie in the NCAA Pairwise rankings. 

“You don’t sing the song after a tie,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson.

Added Downing: “If you give up 10 goals in a weekend, you should get swept,” Downing said. “Luckily our offense came up big this weekend.”

The game the day after a wild, high-scoring affair is often a tight defensive contest. Saturday night, after a rollercoaster 5-4 win over Wisconsin on Friday, that adage didn’t hold true at all.

Instead, momentum swings and a slew of penalties in the first period ensured neither team would leave the arena satisfied.

Michigan (1-0-1 Big Ten, 8-2-3 overall) jumped out to an early two-goal lead behind a season-best effort from the second line. Senior forwards Justin Selman and Boo Nieves each recorded three points in the first period alone.

Nieves opened the scoring less than a minute and a half into the period by shooting a dribbling rebound into the open net. Just minutes later, Nieves broke the puck out on the penalty kill and burned a Badgers defender before taking the puck the length of the ice. He hit Selman, scorching in from the left side, with the pass and just like that, Michigan had its biggest lead of the weekend series.

Nieves and Selman have played well together this year, but there always seemed to be more production to give. Nieves is a 2nd-round NHL draft pick who has never quite produced up to expectations, posting an average of 26.3 points in his first three seasons.

Saturday was easily the best game of Nieves’ season thus far. He consistently found the puck with space and threatened to score from anywhere in the offensive zone.

Wisconsin tied things up with a pair of very similar power-play goals from forward Ryan Wagner. The scores came four minutes apart, both on tipped pucks that slid between Zach Nagelvoort’s pads. It was the start of a long night for the junior goaltender, who wouldn’t last two full periods.

But Michigan rebounded again. Selman added another goal late in the period when he again found himself alone in front and roofed the puck into the right corner. 

Things came unraveled in the second for the Wolverines. The Badgers won the period, 3-0, and stole the momentum from Michigan’s hot start.

After a slow start to the period, Wisconsin (0-1-1, 3-6-5) scored twice in two minutes. The first, an effort from defenseman Tim Davison, came with an extra attacker after Michigan took its fourth penalty of the game. It was the third goal the Wolverines gave up while down a man — the Badgers had yet to take a penalty.

The next goal, credited to forward Matthew Freytag, was more of an own goal by Michigan freshman defender Joe Cecconi, who tipped the puck up and over Nagelvoort’s shoulder.

With the collapse already underway, Berenson had to change something. Out came Nagelvoort, who posted a disappointing .800 save percentage on 20 shots, for freshman Chad Catt, who made his first appearance in a close game.

“The lights are bright, I remember that ever since I was a little kid,” Catt said. “It’s just nice to finally play a good portion of a game here and feel the energy of the crowd.”

To add insult to injury, though, Wisconsin forward Jarod Zirbel finished the period with a pretty behind-the-back pass that left his teammate wide open for the goal. The Badgers entered the second intermission with a two-goal lead.

Catt finished with 12 saves on 14 shots.

The third period was a fitting finish to the weekend series.

Michigan took the ice with speed and determination, egged on again by the upperclassmen. It was junior forward JT Compher, who said Friday in the postgame presser that the team didn’t want to be known as “the comeback kids,” who delivered the rally.

Compher assisted on the first goal with a pretty backhand that found Tyler Motte on the far side of the net. Motte, a junior forward, buried the one-timer.

Three minutes later, sophomore defenseman Nolan de Jong hit Compher with a perfect cross ice pass. Compher raced into the zone all alone and walked by Jurusik with a toe drag to find the back of the net.

“That was a world-class pass from Nolan de Jong,” Compher said. “He put it over three sticks right on my tape in stride. I couldn’t ask for anything more than that. I was lucky to put it in.”

After conceding the pair of goals, Wisconsin looked deflated. The Badgers still generated quality chances, but weren’t driving to the net as relentlessly as they did in the second period.

That has become a bit of a trend for Wisconsin. The team has scored 24 of its 34 goals in the second period this season.

Junior defenseman Michael Downing added a blast from the point to Michigan’s tally with under 10 minutes to play, putting the Wolverines ahead with the finish line in sight.

Catt played a strong final nine minutes, but conceded Wisconsin’s fourth extra-attacker goal on the night.

The Badgers took a penalty as the game headed to overtime, and the five minutes of sudden death hockey were punctuated by a roaring intensity from the crowd.

Michigan couldn’t capitalize in the extra five minutes and a shootout decided the game.

Catt turned away both shots he saw in the shootout, staring intently into the ice with his back turned as his teammates shot.

“It doesn’t matter what their goalie is doing,” Catt said.

Compher and junior Alex Kile scored to seal the 7-6 shootout win.

That result certainly hurts less than a loss, but the Wolverines were disappointed because a victory could have been had. Michigan failed to put the Badgers away on Saturday night, and in the process let the chance at a 2-0 weekend slip away. 

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