In honor of parents weekend, the Michigan hockey players’ welcomed their parents onto the ice before Friday’s game against Northern Michigan for a photo opportunity.

Milan Gajic’s parents were unable to make it to Ann Arbor all the way from British Columbia. Considering their son had pretty drastic thoughts on his mind, it might have a good game for them to attend.

Before his third-period goal in Michigan’s 2-0 win over Northern Michigan, the junior forward’s frustration had been mounting steadily higher. Gajic’s first 17 shots of the season didn’t connect, and his hockey career might have hinged on the eighteenth.

“Before (the goal) I was thinking about retiring, honestly,” Gajic said.

“I put (shots) everywhere: I put them off his head. I put them off his back. I was getting pretty upset about the whole situation.”

One shot Gajic fired managed to knock off Northern Michigan goaltender Craig Kowalski’s helmet, but still didn’t cross the goal line.

“I don’t know how I hit a goalie in the back of the head and the puck didn’t go in the net,” Gajic said. “I’m not a physics major, so I couldn’t tell you.”

No mathematical analysis was needed to analyze Gajic’s tally midway through the final period. Off a faceoff won by sophomore forward Andrew Ebbett, junior defenseman Eric Werner got the puck and passed it across the ice to an open Gajic at the left faceoff circle. Gajic ripped a one-time slapshot to the top left corner for the powerplay goal.

The immense relief that Gajic felt after his goal was obvious to all 6,973 in attendance. As the puck hit the net, Gajic threw up his arms and looked even more energetic than usual.

“It was a great pass,” Gajic said. “The goalie didn’t see it coming across, and I just had to shoot it.”

The fact that he “just had to shoot it” was especially key because of Gajic’s tendency to do too much with the puck. At times this season, Gajic has gotten caught trying to make a perfect play.

In yesterday’s game, coming out of the penalty box early in the second period, Gajic received a pass and was all alone in front of the goal. But he made one too many moves and couldn’t lift the puck over Kowalski’s leg.

Because of his penchant for being inconsistent – all 11 of his goals last year came at Yost Ice Arena – Michigan coach Red Berenson hoped that Gajic’s goal signaled the start of a hot streak. With the 10-man junior class being relied on so much, Berenson would love to see Gajic’s flashes of brilliance, the ones that led him to be drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers before he came to Michigan, come together.

Gajic continued to fire at the net yesterday, but couldn’t convert any of his five shots. Another dozen shots, and he might reconsider hanging it up again.

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