OMAHA, Neb. — The Michigan hockey team went across three states to take on Nebraska-Omaha in the opening game of this weekend series, but the traveling didn’t stop, even during the game.
Entrenched in a tightly contested CCHA race, a Wolverine loss would mean a long trek down the conference standings. Coming in the Wolverines were in fourth place, but after a 4-3 loss, they have been relegated to 6th place in the conference.
The Wolverines opened the scoring with a power play goal. Freshman forward Chris Brown tipped in a Chad Langlais shot to put them up one seven minutes into the game. But like so many other games this season, this contest was a journey. Michigan gave up the tying marker just over a minute later. A turnover in the defensive zone left junior goalie Bryan Hogan one-on-one with Maverick Joey Martin. Martin made a quick move and slid the puck through the five-hole to tie the game.
Penalties and defensive zone turnovers then caused the Wolverines to gave up another goal — and another one.
Trailing by two after the first period, junior forward Louie Caporusso halted everything. He received a pass in the slot and quickly let go of a wrist shot that trickled past Omaha goalie John Faulkner.
But another power play goal by Omaha put the Wolverines down two goals, and as other scores around the conference started trickling in, Michigan’s descent had already begun. Alaska’s victory had already dropped the Wolverines a spot in the standings and a loss would cause the Mavericks to jump them as well.
In the third, they got their opportunity. After Steve Kampfer was hit from behind in his own zone to pick up the puck, Michigan had a five-minute major power play at their disposal. The power play was cut short, however, when freshman Kevin Lynch took a holding penalty. By the time Lynch got out of the box, Michigan had already scored four-on-four and taken another penalty, this time it was on senior Brian Lebler.
Both penalties expired in before the major penalty on Omaha had, and the Mavericks took another penalty, culminating in a 30 second five-on-three for the Wolverines. But they never managed a prime scoring chance, with eight minutes left both teams Omaha was even strength and still clinging to its one goal lead.
Michigan pulled its goalie with a minute left but a missed pass to the point negated any comeback chance it would have mounted.