ALAMAZOO Eight minutes and 29 seconds into the third period Saturday, Western Michigan”s David Gove stood untouched next to the Michigan crease with the puck on his stick and saucers for eyes.

Michigan”s Josh Blackburn had gotten only a piece of a Steve Rymsha drive, and the sight of the country”s No. 2 leading scorer parked in front of an empty net looked like a snapshot destined to haunt the Wolverines in their sleep for weeks to come.

After Gove”s stuff, Andy Hilbert took a seat for 10 minutes after tossing a few too many choiced barbs at referee Brian Aaron.

Situations in hockey don”t get more desolate down three goals, halfway through the third period, a hostile arena, a hot goalie and your best player unavailable for nearly the remainder of the game.

“Down 4-1 it would have been easy to pack it in and go home embarrassed,” Michigan center Mike Cammalleri would might just have been the most crucial, character-building hockey Michigan has played in a wild-and-wooly, anything-goes season.

With 8:45 left in the period, Cammalleri slid a power-play goal past Western Michigan”s Jeff Reynaert to cut the Broncos” lead to 4-2. It was akin to throwing a bucket of water on a forest fire, for Western had swarmed Michigan goalie Josh Blackburn all night. A Bob Gassoff penalty for cross-checking a little over two minutes later looked like a left jab setting up for a right-cross knockout punch, courtesy of the Western power play that had victimized the Wolverines twice that night.

But Michigan killed the penalty convincingly, and proceeded to dominate the Western zone to frustratingly no avail until Cammalleri struck again with a little under three minutes left. Hearts started to flutter.

“That”s some of the funnest times,” Mark Kosick said, “when you get a comeback going and everybody”s really into it.”

That said, Kosick might have had the most fun of all, capping a momentous, rollicking rally with the equalizer with just 1:11 left in regulation.

It was an amazing, awe-inspiring display of determination a toe-to-toe stare down of adversity in a season full of such confrontations, against such foes as a consistently banged-up defense and a habit of inconsistent showings against lesser teams.

Most notably, the Wolverines were not relieved at the end of the overtime period they were disconsolate.

Many players said little, and some refused comment altogether. Three out of four points were achieved against its second-place equal in the CCHA, and Michigan treated the outcome like a playoff loss.

“We expect to win,” Cammalleri said afterward. “We didn”t come in here expecting to tie, that”s why there aren”t too many smiles right now.”

For his part, coach Red Berenson appeared pleased possibly because of his team”s character a fierce attitude both during and after the game.

“A lot of things were against our team tonight,” he said. “But we didn”t quit and we battled back it was a great tie.”

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