DETROIT — Maybe Louie Caporusso just needed to enter the familiar confines of Joe Louis Arena one last time.

The senior forward entered Saturday’s contest against Michigan State riding one of the worst stretches of his career — held scoreless in the last month with only a pair of goals since the beginning of December.

But Caporusso was one of the few bright spots for the No. 6 Michigan hockey team in a frustrating 2-1 loss to the Spartans, scoring the Wolverines’ lone tally in the waning moments of the second period.

Just 37 seconds after Michigan State scored the first goal of the game, Caporusso took a feed from senior forward Scooter Vaughan on the right side of the Spartan net. Caporusso cut across the crease in front of goalie Will Yanakeff, shifted over the downed goaltender, and as he went airborne, he tapped in the loose puck on the right side of Yanakeff for his eighth goal.

It was a finesse move displaying the type of goal-scoring flair the Wolverines haven’t seen often from their alternate captain this season.

Considering his history at the Joe — 18 points in 18 games — it shouldn’t have been surprising for Caporusso to play hero and knot the game at such an important juncture. But the Canadian’s cold snap has rattled him worse than the bone-chilling Ann Arbor weather, and he was just as relieved as the Michigan fans in the audience.

“It felt great,” Caporusso said with a laugh. “It’s tough. When you’re not scoring it becomes impossible to score. But once you get one you feel like a large load is lifted off your shoulders. It felt really good.”

And it’s not the first time he’s felt this way.

On the same date last year (Jan. 29), Caporusso battled similar odds. He had scored twice in two months and had almost the exact same statistics — six goals and 13 assists last season versus seven goals and 14 assists as a senior. But Caporusso rebounded to tally 26 points in the final 19 games to finish as the team’s top goal scorer.

Caporusso, a self-proclaimed second-half performer, may have shrugged the perennial monkey off his back on Saturday, but it was difficult for Michigan coach Red Berenson to accept the silver lining in the team’s first loss in six games.

“The bottom line is you lose the game, it doesn’t matter who scores or who does well, the team doesn’t win, and that’s the important thing,” Berenson said on Saturday. “But I think some players took a step forward and some took a step backward.”

One of the skaters noticeably absent from the box score on Saturday was senior forward Carl Hagelin, whose scoreless night ended a nine-game point streak during which he added 19 points. But while Hagelin’s streak ended, so did Caporusso’s drought.

Though Hagelin carried the Wolverines during the last two months, it will be vital to have both players contributing regularly. In the final 19 games of Michigan’s NCAA regional semifinals run last season, Hagelin and Caporusso combined for 48 points.

If history is any indicator, the key to Michigan’s success may have just have needed a trip down memory lane and up the steps of Joe Louis Arena to find his scoring touch. The second-period goal was Caporusso’s second of the season at the Joe — one more than he’s scored in a dozen appearances at Yost this season.

“I love it here, I don’t know what it is, it’s just my place,” Caporusso said. “It’s just a dream come true. I’ve always watched the Red Wings play here, and I never thought I’d be playing here this much and be having so much success here.”

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