COLUMBUS — The top shelf is usually reserved for momma’s cookies, but inside Value City Arena this weekend, it was only filled with pucks.
In both games of the No. 11 Michigan hockey team’s series split with Ohio State, the Wolverines sent the puck just under the crossbar. For the culprits, senior forward Louie Caporusso and junior forward David Wohlberg, the top shelf was the key to break out of their goal-scoring slumps. But more important, both goals broke 1-1 ties in the third period.
On Friday, Caporusso carried the puck into the Buckeye zone. After a forehand-to-backhand deke, Caporusso pulled the puck wide back to his forehand and let go of a quick shot just inside the blue line. Ohio State goalie Cal Heeter couldn’t even get a piece of it.
It was Caporusso’s first goal since he scored two against Alaska six games ago.
“Sometimes goals, they come in weird ways and sometimes, they are not always going to come to you,” Caporusso said after Friday’s game. “You just got to keep battling and keeping working hard you’ll get your bounces. Stay positive that’s the biggest thing because you got to keep shooting the puck. I just took that shot and it happened to find its way into the net. ”
Ever since Caporusso scored 24 times in his sophomore year, he’s been expected to score big goals for the Wolverines (8-3-1-0 CCHA, 9-5-4 overall).
Michigan hadn’t scored a goal in the third period to tie or take the lead since early November. And despite Michigan giving up a late goal and losing in overtime, Caporusso’s individual effort revealed that he can be the clutch scorer the Wolverines desperately need.
“I want to be looked upon,” Caporusso said. “I like having that pressure on me to come up big in the big games. Hopefully I can do that this year.”
But it’s been Caporusso’s linemate, Wohlberg, who has scored the big goals for Michigan this season. Wohlberg scored to tie the game with 13 seconds left a month ago against Ferris State. But after leading the team in goals at the beginning of the year, he hit a slump in November, with only one goal and one assist since the matchup with the Bulldogs.
On Saturday, with Michigan in danger of getting swept by Ohio State (3-6-1-1, 6-8-1) for the first time since 1989, Wohlberg stepped around the opposing center off the faceoff, intercepted the puck and put it on net. The puck eventually came back to Wohlberg on the backdoor and he sent a backhand over Heeter and into the upper netting for the winning goal.
The goal was his seventh of the year and his second game-winning tally this season. Because of his fast start, the slump-breaker put him in a three-way tie for the team lead in goals.
“He’s way overdue,” Berenson said. “Here’s a guy, he scored five goals in the first seven games and then for one reason or another he’s been snake bit, so good for him.”
Wohlberg’s goal also gave the Wolverines their first win in the past four games.
And though Michigan filling up the top shelf didn’t break momma’s cookies, it did break the Wolverines’ slumps.