MARQUETTE — Friday, the No. 10 Michigan hockey team headed to the Berry Events Center knowing postseason positioning was at stake in the final regular-season series of the season. For the Wolverines, it meant a possible lead in the CCHA regular-season race.
They knew it would come down to a clutch goal. But in their 3-2 victory over Northern Michigan, they didn’t know that goal would come in the second period.
After getting outplayed for the majority of the second period, with 1:02 left, senior forward Louie Caporusso won an offensive-zone faceoff directly to sophomore forward to Chris Brown. Brown wasted no time putting the wrist shot on net, beating Wildcat goaltender Reid Ellingson clean to put Michigan up 3-1. The goal turned out to be the game-winner.
With the Northern Michigan students on Spring Break, the normally rowdy student section was sparse, but the Wolverines started the game leaving not much for the home crowd to cheer about.
Early in the first period, freshman defenseman Mac Bennett took the puck in his own zone, cut hard across the blue line and let a wrist shot go. The puck rang off the post and past Ellingson — Bennett’s second goal of the season.
Ten minutes later, sophomore forward Lindsay Sparks picked up the puck in the corner and sent it out front to junior forward David Wohlberg. Wohlberg fought off a Wildcat defenseman and sent the puck through Ellingson’s five hole.
The Wolverines dominated the first period, but were perhaps lucky to be ahead, taking two penalties to the Wildcats none. Senior goalie Shawn Hunwick was forced to make multiple point-blank stops while his team was down a man late in the period to preserve the lead.
Hunwick’s efforts only lasted until early in the second period. Northern Michigan carried the first 18 minutes of second period, starting with a goal off of a rebound just under three minutes into the second period.
Michigan survived until the Brown goal, but weren’t packing up for the hotel just then.
The Wildcats battled back again in the third period. Northern Michigan forward Andrew Cherniwchan cruised through the slot and wasn’t picked up, leaving him open for a shot that beat Hunwick glove side.
But that would be all the damage Northern Michigan could muster, not counting a knee-to-knee hit on Caporusso that sent him out of the game early in the third period. The Wildcats had a man-advantage situation with two minutes remaining, but two shots bounced past Hunwick but were cleared away by Michigan defenseman to seal the game and give Michigan a shot at the CCHA title on Saturday if they get a little help from Notre Dame.