By Michael Laurila, Daily Sports Writer
Published November 21, 2012
The majority of the No. 19 Michigan hockey team’s games this season could be categorized into good periods and bad periods.
Wednesday’s game against CCHA rival Bowling Green was just that. The Wolverines (2-5-1 CCHA, 4-6-1 overall) notched three second-period goals after trailing by one during the first frame, en route to a 3-1 victory.
“I thought we stuck to our game plan,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “We didn’t give up much and yet we got lucky. There was a spot where we gave the puck away, and they got a good scoring chance and we made the save. Then we went down and scored, and that can be a turning point in a game. …We capitalized on a couple of chances, but mostly it was hard work, it was blue-collar hockey.”
Coming into the one-game series, Bowling Green (1-5-2, 2-8-3) sat tied for last in the conference with Northern Michigan, and the Wolverines were ninth with just two more points than the Falcons. This meant that Michigan knew if it lost Wednesday’s contest, the three-point swing for Bowling Green would have put the Wolverines in second-to-last place overall in the conference and extended their current losing streak to four.
After Michigan had dominated much of the first period, with 10:03 sophomore forward Travis Lynch received a five-minute major penalty for a hit from behind. This not only put Bowling Green on an extended power play, but also eliminated Lynch from the rest of the game. The Wolverines successfully killed off the entire penalty, and did so in a fashion that could only be the impetus for a successful remainder of the period and possibly the game.
“We’ve really preached shot-blocking all year, and on that five-minute power play we got our penalty killers out there,” sophomore forward Alex Guptill said. “I think (junior forward Derek) DeBlois ate about two or three in a row and that’s momentum for our team right there, so those guys that are eating the pucks are a help for our team.”
A trend that has become familiar in the current losing streak, Michigan couldn’t capitalize when it had all the momentum in its favor. In the final five minutes of the first period, the Wolverines rarely let the puck into their own zone, and Guptill and senior forward Kevin Lynch both missed wide-open nets by just a hair.
But with 2.4 seconds left in the first period, Bowling Green notched the first goal of the game off of a slapshot from defenseman Bobby Shea.
Berenson has said before that you never want to end a period on a bad note, and the Falcon’s goal was just that — the teams went into the locker rooms with Michigan wondering what had happened and Bowling Green holding the momentum.
The missed chances continued 10 seconds into the second period, when sophomore forward Phil Di Giuseppe’s pass in front of the goal was an arm’s length too far for senior forward A.J. Treais to reach and put it in an open net as Bowling Green goalie Andrew Hammond was out of position to make the save.
But the duo of Di Giuseppe and Treais wouldn’t have to wait long for redemption. With the assistance of freshman forward Cristoval “Boo” Nieves, Treais knocked in a perfect pass — his team-leading ninth goal of the season — from the right slot into the corner of the net to tie the game at one apiece.
This started a trend in the second period that saw Michigan pounding the Falcons’ defensive zone the entire time. With 6:59 remaining, Lynch fired a wrist shot and Hammond couldn’t hold on. Guptill snuck his stick into the crease to knock the puck in. This gave the Wolverines a 2-1 advantage, but not for long. Freshman forward Justin Selman notched his second goal of the season just over four minutes later.
“I think (the second period success) was a mix of everything,” Di Giuseppe said. “I think we were getting pucks deep, and shots on the net and out battling them for pucks, and that’s something we haven’t done a lot this year.”
The third period remained uneventful, with neither team scoring or having many good chances — just as Michigan wanted it.
The offensive firepower that had been missing in recent weeks seemed to have finally returned Wednesday. Michigan finished off with an impressive 35 shots, compared to just 15 shots from Bowling Green. But the more important statistic was the mere one goal allowed by the Wolverines. They came into the contest allowing 3.62 goals per game in conference play, which put them last in the CCHA in that statistic.
Michigan will travel to New York City where it will square off against No. 13 Cornell at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. The last time Cornell and Michigan faced off was in last year’s NCAA Tournament, when the Big Red upset the Wolverines in the first round of the tournament.
“We are going to play a much better, bigger, stronger team when we play Cornell, so we have to be ready,” Berenson said.