A year later, it was senior night, it was a CCHA title race, and it was overtime.
A year later, it was a captain, it was a game winner, and it was a slap shot from the left wing.
A year later, it was Michigan. Again.
This time, Luke Glendening did it his way, and the captain — who doesn’t like talking about himself — couldn’t find the words to describe the night.
“I don’t know,” the senior forward said. “We’ve been fortunate both (senior nights), I’ll tell you that. But I don’t know. But, yeah — I don’t know. It would be nicer if we just won it in regulation, but hopefully next year they’ll figure that out.”
Three hundred sixty-four days before Glendening forced the turnover against No. 20 Northern Michigan and assisted junior forward A.J. Treais’ overtime goal, a different Michigan captain led the Wolverines to a dramatic senior-night victory in overtime.
Last year, Carl Hagelin did it the way Carl Hagelin should. He scored twice — with seconds left in regulation then again with two seconds remaining in overtime — to give Michigan an unforgettable win over Western Michigan. Glendening put his own stamp on Saturday night’s game with a goal, the game-winning assist to junior forward A.J. Treais and his characteristic brand of hard-working hockey.
Not bad for a former walk-on.
“Is it a coincidence that Luke Glendening gets a goal and an assist tonight on senior night?” asked Michigan coach Red Berenson. “I don’t think so. I don’t think it was a coincidence Carl Hagelin saved the night last year.
“It’s a special night for those players, and they’re the only ones that know what it feels like. The other players, they don’t get it yet.”
Glendening got it. After Friday’s game, Berenson said he was playing the best hockey of his career, and he didn’t even record a point. But that’s not Glendening’s style. Instead, Berenson says that he’s the team’s hardest worker, forechecker and penalty killer.
During practice, Glendening refuses to get beat by anyone in sprints.
On Saturday, he tallied Michigan’s first goal of the night in the second period with a wrister that beat Northern Michigan goalie Reid Ellingson. It was Glendening’s eighth goal of the year, and his first in more than a month.
After the game went into overtime, Glendening intercepted a pass by Wildcat defenseman Wade Epp and sent a cross-ice pass to Treais, who one-timed the puck into the goal.
The pass was more or less routine, but the play to get the puck — where Glendening anticipated a blind pass along the boards in the Wildcat zone — was trademark Glendening.
So was his explanation.
“(Epp) just didn’t really have anywhere else to go,” Glendening said. “He would’ve had to go cross ice, and most ‘D’ don’t like to do that, especially in overtime. So I guess I got lucky.”
Almost four years ago, Glendening was an unheralded freshman — unsure of his role on the team or whether a role for him even existed.
Glendening needed one practice to prove he belonged, a few weeks to prove he could stay and two years to become a two-year captain.
“He just turned himself into a player within weeks,” Berenson said. “He practiced his way into the lineup, and he stayed in the lineup, and he’s been rock solid, and he gets better every year.
“You talk about a character kid, and a work ethic and a no-nonsense, great-student athlete. That’s the kind of kid you want at Michigan.”
In the Michigan locker room after the game, Berenson wrote two words on the board:
The coach pointed to the top one.
“Was this a factor tonight?” Berenson asked his team. “Did that become a factor? I don’t know if Luke Glendening willed this … but that’s what it takes, boys. That’s what it takes.”