OXFORD The No. 11 Michigan hockey team traveled to Oxford this weekend riding a seven-game CCHA unbeaten streak and looking to remove itself from the log jam atop the CCHA.
By the end of the weekend, Michigan had extended its CCHA unbeaten streak to nine games and its overall winning streak to five. Michigan now owns sole possession of second place, but remains three points behind first-place Michigan State.
The Wolverines picked up their first two points of the weekend Friday night when junior Mike Cammalleri scored a game-winning goal less than a minute into overtime to get the 3-2 victory. The next night, the Wolverines were able to keep their momentum, winning 5-2.
“It”s gonna be a tight race, obviously it”s not over but at least we”re back in the hunt now,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “I like the way our team is playing. They”ve been hardfought points, tough games and these are good teams we”ve beat.”
The Wolverines iced the game and the weekend series Saturday night when Cammalleri put away a short rebound off a shot from Jed Ortmeyer to put them up, 4-1. The goal was scored with less than a minute after Eric Nystrom scored off of a similar shot. Both goals came off of hard shifts from the Michigan first line, which were able to cycle the puck, get rebounds and set screens in front for shooters.
Visibly frustrated after the Cammalleri goal, Miami goaltender David Burleigh shot the puck the length of the ice in response to Miami”s failure to clear the zone.
“No, there were no lingering affects (from Friday”s loss), we have no excuses,” said Miami captain Jason Deskins. “I don”t know what to say, we came out and laid an egg. It showed in the second period, in our defensive zone coverage. We had no heart, no pride, no desire. When you have 5,000 fans in your home rink and one of the biggest games of the year in the league, and to come out and play like that you don”t deserve to be in this league. We have no excuses, Michigan is a great hockey team, but obviously we are not as good as we think we are.”
Michigan controlled the entire first period of Saturday”s game, firing 14 shots on Burleigh. Still, Miami kept Michigan off the scoreboard by blocking shots and forcing Michigan to shoot wide. But with less than a minute to play, John Shouneyia was able to slam home an Eric Nystrom rebound on a four-on-three powerplay. The goal was his sixth of the season and it extended the juniors” point streak to six games.
The goal was Michigan”s only powerplay tally of the weekend in four opportunities. The Wolverines came into the weekend with a .185 conversion rate on the powerplay.
But the Wolverines were not as strong on the penalty kill, allowing two powerplay goals and a shorthanded goal on the weekend.
Michigan didn”t let up after the first intermission on Saturday. With Mike Komisarek in the penalty box for high-sticking to begin the second period, Nystrom picked up a clearing pass that hit a linesman and skated the length of the ice before deking Burleigh with his backhand to put Michigan up 2-0. The breakaway goal was Michigan”s third shorthanded score of the season. With four points Saturday, Nystrom now leads all freshman in scoring with seven goals and 14 points.
Michigan goalie Josh Blackburn helped the Wolverines by stoning the RedHawks through the first two periods. Blackburn, who has lowered his goals-against average to 2.71, finished the night with 25 saves on 27 shots. In addition, Blackburn stopped three third-period breakaways that could have turned the momentum around and allowed Miami back in the game.
“This was not a blowout game and I thought Blackburn kept us in there,” Berenson said. “We were turning the puck over too much and we were on our heels the last 10 minutes of the game. I didn”t like the way we played in that part of the game.”
Blackburn played well on Friday night as well, allowing just two goals.