BOWLING GREEN — Two goals, both scored during a five-minute power play in the first period, proved to be all the Wolverines needed to defeat Bowling Green 2-1 at BGSU Ice Arena last night, propelling the team to the coveted fourth-place position in the CCHA.
It all started when Falcon sophomore Brennan Vargas made a quick cut towards the goal from the neutral zone and the Bowling Green forward received a crisp pass.
All that was between him and the goalie was senior defenseman Chris Summers. Vargas could spark a great start for the Falcons — he just had to get by the Michigan captain.
But Summers poked the puck away, into the corner of the defensive zone. Players from each team started to pile up and chaos ensued. Cheers roared down from the crowd as shoves were exchanged, and Bowling Green forward Tommy Dee wrapped his arms around Michigan freshman Chris Brown and took him to the ice.
Dee received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for his role in the brawl and the Michigan hockey team took full advantage.
Junior Matt Rust cleaned up a rebound on a shot from the point by senior defenseman Steve Kampfer. Then Brown exacted some revenge with a wrist shot from the lower left slot. He was wide open and placed the puck top shelf on the stick side of the goal.
Michigan took Thursday’s game as a chance to wash the bad taste out of its mouth against the Falcons. Last time the teams played, the Wolverines split a disappointing series with Bowling Green, the 11th-place team in the CCHA.
Michigan led 2-1 entering the third period at home on Nov. 20. But the Falcons (3-14-4-3 CCHA, 4-19-4 overall) capitalized on two power-play opportunities in the final period, three unanswered goals to win the game 4-2.
It was the only time the Wolverines (11-9-1-0, 16-12-1) have lost a game that they led entering the third period all season — they are 15-1 in such instances.
Play got sloppy after the first period, but Michigan held to the win in the defensive contest.
“A lot of turnovers, a lot of chances, I can’t tell you much more,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “It was mostly a shinny game more than a hockey game.”
The Wolverines had to hold back the Falcons, and had a little luck on their side.
Junior goaltender Bryan Hogan came out of the net to play a puck and disaster almost struck the Wolverines similar to previous games against Boston and Michigan State. The puck bounced awkwardly off of the zamboni door and right out in front of an open net.
“It was a miracle they didn’t score on that,” Berenson said. “That might’ve been the closest chance of the period.”
Berenson has been concerned about his team’s five-on-five play lately, and it wasn’t exactly an area the Wolverines excelled in last night. Michigan did clamp down for the final forty-plus minutes of the game to seal the victory — something the Wolverines couldn’t accomplish two months ago at Yost.
“We’re trying to win the third period,” Berenson said. “And we didn’t win it, but we tied it at least. We didn’t give up a goal. You don’t know what’s going to happen. And I feel fortunate to come out of here with a win.”
With the win, Berenson moved into a tie for sixth place for NCAA hockey all-time coaching wins. He is tied with former Clarkson and Boston College coach Len Ceglarski with 689 wins.
But Berenson’s accomplishment was drowned out by the team’s. The Wolverines and Berenson have made it clear that one of their goals is to finish in the top-four of their conference this season, which is where they stand after last nights win.
Now, the Wolverines head outdoors and take on No. 3 Wisconsin in the Camp Randall Classic on Saturday.