Friday night, the Michigan hockey team dug itself a hole. In the next two games, forward Mike Cammalleri put on his working gloves and dug his teammates out of it almost single-handedly.
In the deciding game of the Wolverines” best-of-three, first-round CCHA playoff series against Lake Superior last night, Michigan held a 5-on-3 advantage with less than one minute remaining in the first period and the score tied at zero.
As junior John Shouneyia and sophomore Mike Komisarek passed the puck back and forth near the left side of the blueline, Cammalleri snuck to the right circle and received a pass from Komisarek. He found himself in a one-on-one situation with seemingly unbreakable goaltender Matt Violin. Cammalleri skated in and as Violin came out of the crease, he proceeded to play him like a fiddle, faking left then quickly moving to his right for an easy flip-in.
“I just tried to have some patience, and I was able to get it around him,” Cammalleri said. “It was good for our team to get the first one in.”
“(Cammalleri is) a difference maker,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “He thrives in big games. We”ve been getting a lot of shots but not a lot of goals. He”s a goal scorer.”
Cammalleri added another goal and an assist in Michigan”s 4-1 victory over the Lakers last night, which upped his scoring numbers for the weekend to 5-2-7.
In Saturday night”s game, with his team facing elimination, the junior scored the Wolverines” last three goals in their 4-1 win, earning him his first hat trick of the season.
Saturday, on a similar play to his first goal last night, Cammalleri received the puck from Komisarek in the right circle. But this time, he fired a one-timer that gave Michigan a 3-1 lead late in the third period. It was just another clutch goal from Michigan”s leading goal scorer (21).
The Wolverines” played without Cammalleri from Jan. 19 to Feb. 23, rolling off a 7-2-1 record without their star, who was sidelined with mononucleosis. In his second full series back in the lineup, all signs pointed to full recovery as he was the most dominating player on the ice all weekend.
“After today, having played three (games) in three (nights) like that, I don”t feel tired right now,” Cammalleri said.
Extra-curricular activity: As the first period of last night”s game came to a close with Michigan leading 1-0, a verbal war began between Michigan freshman Eric Nystrom and Lake Superior coach Frank Anzalone. The two adversaries yelled from bench to bench, but it was nothing too serious.
“(Nystrom) is a competitor,” Anzalone said. “It was just competitive chitter-chatter. It was nothing more than “You jerk, you bum.” It was all about Michigan trying to defend its turf, and us trying to invade it. He just stood up for his team.”
When Nystrom scored Michigan”s third goal on a pass from Cammalleri, Komisarek was in the Michigan zone taking care of some personal business with Lake Superior forward Chris McNamara. The players were tied up against the boards and McNamara grabbed Komisarek”s head and pulled his helmet off. Komisarek retaliated by punching McNamara in the back of the head just as Nystrom”s backhand found the net. When the defenseman saw his teammate had scored, he skated away from McNamara who was being held down by the referee with his arms in the air and a priceless grin.
No, thank you: Yost Ice Arena public address announcer Glen Williams is known for contributing many traditions to the Michigan hockey experience, especially his “you”re welcome” or lack their of in the last minute of each contest.
Last night, in what could have been Williams” last game announcing for the Wolverines after 33 years, he mixed up his routine just a bit. When the students thanked him for notifying them of the time left in regulation, he responded with a heart-felt “No, thank you.”
Under 6,000: Last night”s game one that could have ended Michigan”s season with a loss produced the lowest attendance (5,879) since the Blue-White exhibition game on Sep. 28.
Un-fairwise?: By virtue of its loss to Lake Superior Friday night, Michigan dropped from No. 4 in the Pairwise Rankings (which mirror the NCAA Tournament selection process) to No. 10.