For the young Michigan hockey team, it was a Swede start to the season.
The 10th-ranked Wolverines defeated Western Ontario 5-1 in an exhibition game highlighted by freshman and Sweden native Carl Hagelin’s third-period hat trick. Hagelin’s heroics came just a day after Michigan’s top defensive lines bettered Wolverine goalie Billy Sauer and the top offensive lines 6-3 in the annual Blue-White scrimmage.
After two periods yesterday, the Wolverines had outshot the Mustangs 19-10 but led by just one. But four goals in the third period, including three in fewer than three minutes, put the game away and highlighted the Wolverines’ offensive talent against a fading Western Ontario squad.
Hagelin made a splash in his across-the-ocean collegiate debut, netting three goals in the third period to lead the Wolverines’ offensive surge. The freshman converted a perfect pass from sophomore Steve Kampfer and found the back right-hand corner of the net a minute and 50 seconds into the period.
After Michigan and Western Ontario scored one quick goal apiece, Hagelin notched his second tally two minutes later on the Travis Turnbull-Louie Caparusso line that contributed three of the Blue team’s six goals in the previous night’s Blue-White scrimmage.
Hagelin’s third goal came with 3:11 remaining in the game as he wrapped around the back of the net and dumped the puck between the Western Ontario goalie Keyvan Hunt’s leg and the left post.
“I think we had a lot of chances all game, but in the third, we started finding the back of the net,” senior captain Kevin Porter said. “I don’t know what happened – if (Western Ontario) started to get more fatigued and their goalie let up a bit, (if) he was tired from so many shots.”
Before breaking the game open in the third period, the Wolverines showcased defense and hard-hitting, physical play. During the first period, Turnbull was tripped behind the Western Ontario goal, with the play drawing boos from the crowd. Freshman defenseman Tristin Llewellyn chased after Turnbull’s agitator and exchanged words near the Western Ontario bench.
When Michigan was on the power play during the second, a struggle for the puck against the boards ended in a heated argument that the referees had to break up. Later, a hit on junior Danny Fardig sent him flying in the air and spinning almost parallel to the ice before falling to the ground.
“We thought it was physical but pretty clean,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “I thought their team kept their heads and I thought our team kept our heads. There were some good hits at the ice level, but not stupid hits. That’s what we want.”
Michigan’s aggressive play peaked in the second period, when a Chad Langlais interference penalty was followed three seconds later by a tripping call on Fardig off the faceoff. Despite having a two-man advantage for almost two full minutes, the Western Ontario offense couldn’t manage even one shot on goal. The Mustangs’ sloppy passing and passive offense on the power play caused Michigan to be successful in its first big penalty-killing test.
Both yesterday’s exhibition contest and Saturday’s intrasquad game gave the team and its 12 freshmen an opportunity to get competitive ice time under its belt before next weekend’s Ice Breaker Invitational in St. Paul.
Porter said facing Western Ontario this weekend isn’t comparable to the level of play the Wolverines will face Friday against No. 2 Boston College. But in Michigan’s first weekend of game action, a physical game and strong offensive contribution from a freshman were encouraging signs.
“I thought our team really was focused during the game, playing hard in its own zone and back checking,” Berenson said. “It didn’t feel like an exhibition game on the bench and at the ice level. . You’re trying to get some real game experience, and I think we got that.”