The No. 10 Michigan hockey team has done it again.
After coming back to tie Union, 5-5, last weekend after being down 3-1 at the end of the second period, the Wolverines faced a similar predicament Friday night at Yost Ice Arena.
Down 3-1, once again, at the end of the second period, Michigan scored four unanswered goals in the third period to defeat Robert Morris, 5-3.
After two periods of play that saw the Wolverines outshoot the Colonials (2-0-1 Atlantic Hockey Conference, 2-1-2 overall), 34-18, Michigan knew it could come back.
“I thought our really good period was the second,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “We outshot them, 18-8, but still came out on the short end of the score, and in the third period, I give our team credit for being resilient.”
And it started early in the third stanza, when freshman forward Cooper Marody kicked off the barrage of goals with a snipe off a three-on-two that saw all three members of the third line touch the puck.
“(The first goal) jumpstarted our team on the bench,” Berenson said.
Michigan (4-0-1) tied the game less than four minutes later on the power play as junior defenseman Michael Downing blasted a laser from the point to beat Robert Morris goaltender Terry Shafer.
But the Wolverines weren’t finished.
With 8:05 left to go in the third period, Michigan went on a five-on-three power play, and it didn’t take the Wolverines long to find twine. Sophomore defenseman Zach Werenski stick handled past a sprawling Colonial defenseman before ripping a shot upstairs past Shafer.
Michigan ended the scoring with the third line getting on the scoreboard again.
Marody received the puck, wide open. While he had an open shot on goal, Marody chose to make the extra pass to fellow linemate, sophomore forward Tony Calderone. From there, Calderone shot the puck past a sprawling Shafer to put the Wolverines up for good.
“It was a good job battling back,” Compher said. “We talked in the locker room that we had done it before. We thought we were outplaying them, we thought we were getting more shots, more opportunities. We just had to put them away.”
But the first two periods were a completely different story.
With 3:44 left in the first period, Werenski coughed up the puck at the Robert Morris blue line, leaving only one player back to defend the Colonials’ attack.
On the ensuing two-on-one, junior goaltender Zach Nagelvoort, who got the start over senior netminder Steve Racine, stopped the original shot, but lost sight of the puck as the Colonials crashed the net. Robert Morris forward Brandon Denham poked the puck under Nagelvoort’s pad to put the Colonials up 1-0 with 16:16 left in the first period.
In the second period, JT Compher redirected the puck at the net, causing another scrum in front of the Colonials’ goal.
Compher himself jabbed at the puck multiple times, before finally pushing it past Shafer for his first goal of the season.
“We had a quick opportunity off the forecheck,” Compher said. “(Junior forward Alex Kile) got it out to me and I got it over to (junior forward Tyler Motte), and we were just trying to jam the puck in. … We knew the goalie was playing well, and we talked about getting to the net, so luckily, it went in.”
But just over a minute later, Robert Morris took the lead right back. Colonial forward Matt Cope collected the puck after dump in from the blue line. Cope passed the puck over to forward Spencer Dorowicz, who drove to the front of the net before back handing the puck through Nagelvoort’s legs for his first goal of the season.
It didn’t get any better for the Wolverines in the second period, as they gave up another two-on-one five minutes later.
And once again, Nagelvoort got the initial save on Colonial forward Greg Gibson, but with no help, there was no one to defend the rebound and forward Zac Lynch knocked the puck past a sprawling Nagelvoort for his third tally of the season to put Robert Morris up, 3-1, going into the second intermission.
“The only thing you can do is refocus after the first period,” Berenson said. “I liked the way we played in the second period. I just didn’t like the score.”
While Michigan didn’t win in the cleanest way, the Wolverine offense was able to finally beat a goaltender playing at his best.
And with so much of the season left to go, another tally in the win column is all that matters.