BOSTON — Three weeks ago, the Michigan hockey team suffered its first loss of the season against Robert Morris. It was the Wolverines’ first afternoon game, and the Colonials shut out Michigan at home.
After the game, Michigan coach Red Berenson said one team always has more energy in an afternoon game, and that team always wins.
“I told my team this morning that there would be one team that would come out hungrier than the other,” Berenson said after the Robert Morris loss on Oct. 31. “In these afternoon games, that’s how it works. We thought we’d be that team, but we weren’t.”
Saturday afternoon, the Wolverines were that team. No. 12 Michigan outshot No. 10 Boston University, 38-21, en route to a 4-2 win.
“We knew we had to come out and start on time and play well at the beginning,” said junior forward JT Compher. “We had had a lot of, I wouldn’t say anger, but we wanted to send a message.”
Like it did a day earlier, Michigan (6-2-1) started the day’s scoring. Ninety seconds into Michigan’s first power-play opportunity, junior defenseman Michael Downing lined up a shot from the blue line that freshman forward Cooper Marody redirected past Boston University netminder Connor LaCouvee.
It didn’t take the Wolverines long to add to their early lead when freshman forward Brendan Warren, on a breakaway, backhanded one over LaCouvee’s left shoulder.
However, the feeling still wasn’t secure for Michigan hockey fans. Friday, the Wolverines jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Terriers (6-4-2), but conceded three unanswered goals in the third period in their second loss of the year.
Saturday was a different story. With three minutes left in the first frame, Downing, on a power play once again, got his shot through from the blue line. This time, junior forward Alex Kile was there to collect the rebound that he ultimately backhanded over LaCouvee.
The second period was a stalemate for 19 minutes before Boston University forward Matt Lane took a long pass from forward Doyle Somerby and brought the puck in from the right slot before beating Racine via the five hole.
And when the second-period buzzer rang a minute later, it was the same story as a day before: Michigan was up two goals, outshooting the Terriers by more than 10 while dominating the game.
More notably, during the final five minutes of the second period, the Wolverines looked like they were playing not to lose, rather than playing to win. Berenson said that was the sole reason for Friday’s collapse.
But Berenson stressed that message during the second intermission, and the Wolverines looked like a completely different team in the third period than they did a day before. Compher said the team was well aware of that during the second intermission.
“I didn’t have to say much,” Compher said. “We just knew we had to keep the gas pedal down and play to win and play our goal. It was a good period by us, and one of the best we played all year.”
With three minutes left in the game, junior forward Max Shuart received a pass from freshman forward Kyle Connor and beat LaCouvee for his first goal of the season.
And with Shuart’s goal, the Wolverines, despite letting up a final-second goal, cruised to their first afternoon win of the season and left a tough road series against Boston University with a win.
“To come out and play the way we did today leaves a good taste in our mouth,” Compher said.
Added Berenson: “Any time you win in Boston, it’s a good win.”