With a minute gone in the third period Friday night, Michigan hockey team coach Red Berenson threw his third line out at Yost Ice Arena.
But this third line was different than the one that started the game. After trotting out a third line of senior Justin Selman and freshmen Cooper Marody and Brendan Warren, Selman was replaced by sophomore Tony Calderone, reuniting the third line that started off the season.
After leading the team in scoring through November with 14 goals, the line of Marody, Calderone and Warren has tailed off since then, scoring just five goals in the subsequent months.
And in mid-January, when Marody came down with mononucleosis, the line that was so prolific early in the season was split up. With Marody out, Selman was brought in to center the line.
A month later, just as Marody was healthy again, Calderone came down with a lower-body injury, which, once again, pushed back the date for the trio’s return to the ice.
But Friday, the third line that started the season was brought back together and rekindled its scoring spark.
On their first shift back together, Calderone retrieved the puck in the corner of the offensive zone and dished it off to Marody, who got tied up and lost it. Calderone gathered the loose puck, spun around and fired at the goal, beating Ohio State goaltender Christian Frey to cut the Wolverines’ deficit to three.
Later in the period, Marody found Calderone open inside the left circle and Calderone ripped the puck past Frey to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to two.
“(Berenson) just kind of put us out there, and our first shift (on the ice), we scored, and we stuck after that,” Calderone said. “We kind of just connected after that.”
Sunday, the line got on the board late in the second period on the power play. Once again, Marody found Calderone in the slot, and Calderone backhanded the puck past Buckeye goaltender Matt Tomkins. Marody also scored the game-tying tally to push the game into overtime.
With the first line of junior forwards Tyler Motte and JT Compher and freshman forward Kyle Connor leading the way offensively for Michigan, the three other lines are often forgotten.
But with so much attention given to the first Compher-Connor-Motte line, it creates opportunities for the other lines, especially the third.
“We’re the depth guys,” Calderone said. “Everyone looks at the CCM line and saying, ‘We need to shut them down.’ But our line can produce every night, too, and it gives (the team) more depth on any given night. The opponent has to watch all of our lines.”
On the line, each of the three players has a role on the team, a trait similar to the CCM line: Warren is the grinder, Marody is the passer and Calderone is the shooter.
“Warren’s good in the corner,” Calderone said. “He’s a real good working guy. He wins all his battles, which is big. Cooper’s an unbelievable passer. He sees the ice very well. He’s got great hands. And then both of those guys try to give me the puck to shoot. I’m more of the shooter on that line. We really complement each other very well.”
With the third line back together and rolling, evident in its four-goal weekend against Ohio State, the depth might be exactly what Michigan needs to win the Big Ten Tournament next week.