Michigan 4, Bowling Green 2
Michigan 3, Bowling Green 2
BOWLING GREEN — Two inches to the left.
That’s all freshman goalie Bryan Hogan’s empty-nett shot needed for it to be the weirdest goal of the season during Saturday night’s game in Ann Arbor.
On the power play with less than two minutes remaining, Bowling Green pulled goalie Jimmy Eno to secure a 6-on-4 advantage with just a one-goal deficit. Add that to the fact the Falcons had the second-best power-play unit in the nation and had scored on a two-man advantage earlier in the game, and the closing minutes were sure to be tense for Michigan.
But when the Falcons pressured the net, Hogan cleared the puck, whipping it over the players’ heads and down the length of the rink. It was headed straight for the goal – and clanked off the left post.
“I was just thinking about clearing the puck,” Hogan said after the game. “All I saw was the lane right in the middle.”
“That’s a lie – I know you were trying to score,” senior Kevin Porter cut in, jokingly.
“Yeah, I’ll be honest, I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, I think I have a chance here,’ ” Hogan responded. “But it is what it is. It hit the post. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”
The stars collide: Going into the weekend, Bowling Green captain Derek Whitmore and Porter were the top two players in six CCHA and national offensive categories. Whitmore led the nation with 1.18 goals per game, and Porter had a CCHA-high 16 goals. The two were tied for the national lead with eight power-play goals.
But Whitmore suffered a knee injury against Wayne State last weekend and practiced without contact all week. Before the series, Bowling Green coach Scott Paluch said he was “optimistic but not confident” Whitmore would play against Michigan.
Whitmore played both games, but the showdown between the two star forwards wasn’t much of a contest. Porter finished with two goals and one assist on the weekend to extend his lead in the total goals column, while Whitmore had just two assists.
Whitmore’s best scoring opportunity came on a breakaway in the third period Friday, but his shot went wide of the net.
“I thought they had very good forwards,” Michigan goalie Billy Sauer said Friday. “I’m friends with Whitmore, actually, and I was just glad he didn’t get one on me.”
The most telling difference between the two was in the plus-minus column. Whitmore was on the ice for all four Wolverine goals Friday and finished minus-5 on the weekend. Porter was a combined plus-1.
But when Michigan coach Red Berenson was asked to evaluate Whitmore’s play, he refused to compare the two forwards.
“I don’t think I would judge (Whitmore),” Berenson said. “I know he was injured and didn’t have a full week of practice, so I don’t think I’d comment on that. I think they were probably happy he could try and get through the weekend and help them.”
Flip-flopped: Michigan was down 2-1 after two periods Friday before scoring three goals in the game’s last five minutes.
Last year, the score was the same at BGSU Ice Arena – 2-1 after two – but the Wolverines were the ones who flopped in the game’s final minutes. Michigan gave up two goals in the last seven minutes to lose 3-2.
The score would have been the same Friday (3-2) if not for senior Chad Kolarik’s empty-netter with seven seconds left that pushed the Wolverines’ win margin to two.
After playing without an offensive spark all game, the Wolverines needed just the last quarter of the final period to leave Bowling Green in the same position Michigan was a year ago.
“It’s good we pulled that win out,” sophomore Chris Summers said. “We probably should have done a little bit better in the first or second, but it’s a gritty win. We’ll take it.”
In the stands
Bowling Green fans were, well, interesting. Students dressed as the Queen of England threw candy (think Hot Dog Man, but a whole lot less cool) during the intermission.
The stands were a little bare at the beginning of Saturday night’s game, but once the students showed up, Yost was rocking pretty hard. Who doesn’t get a kick out of Santa dancing?
Notable Number: 178
The length, in feet, of goalie Bryan Hogan’s shot at an empty net in Saturday night’s game. It missed by inches.