Sixty minutes and 33 seconds — that’s how long the Michigan hockey team’s offensive drought took.
Freshman Andrew Copp ended it with his fourth goal of the season oFriday night when Alaska traveled to Ann Arbor for a weekend series. This started a second period flurry of goals that saw each team score three each.
It wasn’t enough though, as the Wolverines (4-8-2 CCHA, 7-11-2 overall) fell 5-4 to the Nanooks.
Twenty-six seconds into the game, senior forward Kevin Lynch took a hooking penalty and Alaska went on an early power play. The Nanooks (7-7-3, 6-8-4), who score just 12.4 percent of the time on the power play, were unable to get anything going and tallied just one shot with the man advantage. And with just over 11 minutes remaining in the first period, sophomore defenseman Mike Chiasson was called for an obstruction penalty putting the Wolverines back on the penalty kill.
The Michigan offense couldn’t get anything going early. It took over 13 minutes in the first period before the Wolverines tallied their first shot of the game while on the power play. As the final seconds of the power play ticked off, junior defenseman Jon Merrill misplayed a shot attempt and Alaska’s Kaare Odegard rushed down the ice out of the penalty box and scored a one-timer during a three-on-two rush.
“We’re not going to win games giving up five goals,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “I thought we pushed back hard in the second and we played better in the third, but it was just wasn’t enough.”
Taking a 1-0 deficit into the first-period intermission, Michigan tallied only four shots during the initial frame, continuing a lackluster offensive trend from Tuesday’s loss to Bowling Green when it notched three shots during the third period.
Alaska came out of the first intermission and immediately got back on the board with a goal 3 minutes and 21 seconds in. But Michigan finally overcame its offensive woes with the Copp goal as he batted the puck into the goal in front of the right side of the net to make the score 2-1.
Berenson moved Copp up to the first line with seniors A.J. Treais and Kevin Lynch, and the move appeared to bolster the Wolverines’ top line.
“Copp is a young kid and gives us a lot of energy and hard work,” Berenson said. “He’s a good defensive two-way player and he can score. Good for him. I think we had a lot of players who had good games, but we lost the game — that’s the bottom line.”
With a little more than seven minutes remaining in the second period, sophomore forward Alex Guptill received a pass in front the net and was able to bury it in the back to tie the game at two apiece. This livened up a Yost Ice Arena crowd that hasn’t had a lot to cheer about lately.
But the Nanooks quickly nipped any momentum the Wolverines had gained when they scored two goals in three minutes and 23 seconds to make the score 4-2. With 1:06 left in the second, Michigan was able to get on the board again for its third goal of the period when freshman defenseman Jacob Trouba deflected a rebound into the net. The period finished with the score at 4-3 and a total of six goals scored by both teams.
Coming out of the second intermission, junior goalie Adam Janecyk entered the game for freshman Steve Racine, and the Wolverines seemed to have new life. But then the Nanooks struck again in the form of a shorthanded goal with 16 minutes remaining in the game, and took a 5-3 lead. Michigan seemed doomed for another loss, its fourth in five games.
“We gave up four goals in two periods and I don’t care who’s playing goal, you have to play better than that,” Berenson said. “Racine’s a good goalie — I think he’s as good a goalie as we have but he still has to make those saves. Those were two easy goals. He stops them every day in practice, so we’re trying to win games and give our goalies confidence, but they need to go out and do the job.”
After the Wolverines pulled Janecyk, with just two minutes remaining in the game, sophomore forward Zach Hyman scored after a scrum in front of the net to cut their deficit to a goal. There was one minute and 11 seconds remaining though, and Michigan didn’t have enough time to tie up the game. The Wolverines will be back in action Saturday night to conclude the series with Alaska.