DETROIT Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena, Michigan goalie Josh Blackburn wrapped up his second shutout of the weekend against Lake Superior. But even though it was a rare weekend sweep for the Michigan hockey team a sweep it needed to keep pace with Michigan State in the CCHA standings the senior was a little bored.
“The guys played unbelievable defense,” Blackburn said. “It was probably the best we played all year, as you can see by the shots I faced. It didn”t make my job too hard.
“I did get bored.”
But even though he wasn”t ecstatic, Blackburn maintained his focus. The senior turned aside all 29 shots he faced over the weekend and maintained his composure Saturday night when the Wolverines were struggling to find the net.
“We knew it would be a close game,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “You never know how the game”s going to go, but you have to take care of your own end. I thought Blackburn made a few key saves and our defense did a good job around him.”
Michigan jumped out to an early lead when defenseman Eric Werner scored on the powerplay just over two minutes into the game, but its defensive pressure did not waver. The Wolverines allowed just three shots in first, while collecting 12 of their own.
The next two periods were more of the same. Michigan struggled to score despite numerous even-strength and powerplay opportunities. But Blackburn, backed up by the defense, denied Lake Superior any chance to score a goal.
The Lakers” best chance to relieve their drought came in the second period during a pile-up in front of Michigan”s net. But a diving save by Blackburn prevented Lake Superior from tying the game.
This weekend was not the first time Blackburn has dominated the Lakers in goal. The last time he earned two shutouts in a weekend sweep was last season against Lake Superior, and five of his 13 career shutouts have come against the Lakers.
Blackburn was careful not to take any credit after the game instead he praised his defense.
“Every time they came on the ice, we had guys picking up their guys,” Blackburn said. “It was a good defensive effort. The shutouts this weekend belong to the guys because they are the ones who earned it.”
With 13 career shutouts, Blackburn is just two shy of former Michigan goalie Marty Turco”s record of 15, set from 1994-1998. Michigan has seven regular season games left this season, plus any CCHA or NCAA tournament games that may occur in the future. This gives Blackburn an opportunity to tie, or even pass Turco in the record books.
When Blackburn earned his 11th shutout against Alaska-Fairbanks on Jan. 11, it was mistakenly announced that he had tied Turco”s record, which was thought to be 11.
“If I get to 15 shutouts, (the record) will probably turn to 20,” Blackburn joked. “You don”t want to jinx yourself. If it happens, it happens. No big deal.”