Leading by two, late in the third period at home on Saturday against Quinnipiac, No. 8 Michigan appeared to have a strong grip on the game. The only question that remained was whether or not defenseman Matt Hunwick could find the net for the third time that night to cap off a great individual performance in the Wolverines’ 5-3 win.

After Quinnipiac committed back-to-back penalties, the Wolverines had a two-man advantage. Hunwick skated toward the front of the net and passed to right-winger Chad Kolarik. Kolarik immediately gave it back to Hunwick who one-timed the puck past Bobcat goalie Wes Russel. The beautifully executed give-and-go gave Hunwick a hat trick and put the Wolverines up 5-2.

“I can’t really remember ever having five points, or probably even four points,” Hunwick said. “I was lucky enough tonight that I had a couple of opportunities, and the last one went in.”

Even though Hunwick stole the show, the real story in Saturday’s game was the speed advantage the Wolverines (2-0-0) had over the Bobcats. Quinnipiac (0-2-0) battled Michigan to a 1-1 tie in the first period, but when Bobcat defenseman Reid Cashman got called for tripping five minutes into the second period, the game swung Michigan’s way. The penalty turned a Quinnipiac power-play opportunity into four-on-four play. The increased room to skate was a situation that clearly favored the faster Wolverines. Not wasting any time, Michigan cycled the puck around to Hunwick at the blue line. The assistant captain squeaked a shot through the legs of Russell – who was screened on the play – for Hunwick’s second goal of the game, putting Michigan up 2-1.

Less than a minute later, Michigan struck again, taking advantage of the extra space on the ice in four-on-four play. Kolarik fought for the puck behind the Quinnipiac goal and set up Wolverine center Andrew Ebbett in front of the net. The captain one-timed the puck high to Russell’s stick side, beating the goalie to put Michigan up 3-1.

“We took advantage of a couple of plays,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “Kolarik made a good play on Ebbett’s goal. If you play four-on-four and you get the puck, you have a little more room offensively.”

The momentum continued to swing Michigan’s way as defenseman Jack Johnson got into the action. With the Wolverines controlling the puck, Hunwick sent a pass over to Johnson, who tried to one time a shot on net. The freshman didn’t get good wood on the shot, but with a flurry of players screening Russell, the “changeup” found its way between the pipes, giving Johnson his first goal as a Wolverine and giving Michigan a three-goal lead.

“I would describe that as a pathetic shot,” Johnson said.

A first period Quinnipiac penalty gave the Wolverines a chance to get on the board first. Johnson fired a laser in on net, which Russell saved. But the goalie failed to control the rebound, and the puck caromed off to the side where Hunwick was waiting to send it into an empty net for a 1-0 Michigan lead.

The lead did not last for long, as Quinnipiac forward Brian Leitch banged the puck past Michigan goalie Billy Sauer, tying the game at one.

Quinnipiac defenseman Dan Henningson added a power-play goal with lass than two minutes left in the game to cap off the scoring in the 5-3 Wolverine win.

Hunwick added two assists to his three goals, making him the first Wolverine to tally five points in a game since Mike Comrie scored a goal and notched four assists on Nov. 5, 1999 against Ohio State. Johnson added three assists, giving him four points on the night.

“Our first job is to keep pucks out of the net,” Johnson said. “Chipping in offensively is just a bonus for us, and we had a fortunate night.”

On Friday night, Quinnipiac put up a tougher fight, but the result was the same – a Michigan win. After a scoreless first, the Wolverines scored twice in the second. Center Danny Fardig beat Bobcat goalie Bud Fisher for Michigan’s first score of the year. Then, the Wolverines capitalized on a two-man advantage opportunity, with left-winger Kevin Porter making the score 2-0.

Things became interesting in the third when Quinnipiac forward Joe Dumais beat Sauer cutting the Michigan lead to one with less than three minutes left. But Porter put the game away 44 seconds later as he tipped in a pass from assistant captain T.J. Hensick, giving the Wolverines a 3-1 win. Sauer made 25 saves in the game.

With the weekend sweep, Michigan is off to its first 2-0-0 start since the 1999-2000 season. The Wolverines will look to stay unbeaten in the early season when they host No. 3 Boston College Friday night at Yost Ice Arena.

 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.