MANCHESTER, N.H. – Playing its first NCAA Regional playoff
game away from Yost Ice Arena in three years, it seemed the
Michigan hockey team would be in trouble playing New Hampshire in
the first round of the Northeast Regional. But sophomore Brandon
Kaleniecki wasted little time before silencing the large Wildcat
Kaleniecki scored 1:05 into the game and added
another tally in the third period, giving Michigan a 4-1 win and a
ticket to the regional final, where the Wolverines will play Boston
College this afternoon at 4 p.m.
Right from the opening faceoff, Michigan
controlled the tempo of play, limiting the Wildcats to just two
shots in the first period.
But the Wolverines decided the game’s
outcome in the second period. With 10:15 left in the second period,
junior Milan Gajic scooped up a loose puck in the neutral zone and
skated in with sophomore Andrew Ebbett on a two-on-one. Gajic
passed across to Ebbett, who deked New Hampshire goaltender Michael
Ayres and slipped the puck through Ayres’ five-hole to put
Michigan up 2-0.
“We were fortunate to have the first
goal, but it was more important to get the second goal before (New
Hampshire) got started,” Kaleniencki said.
New Hampshire’s best chance came early
in the second period. After players from both teams were sent off
for incidental minors, senior Andy Burnes was called for holding,
giving the Wildcats a four-on-three powerplay for 1:45. But
Michigan’s penalty killers were able to weather the
powerplay, thanks in large part to junior Eric Nystrom holding the
puck in the New Hampshire end for close to thirty seconds.
“That (powerplay) could have certainly
been a turning point in the game,” Berenson said. “When
the home team gets momentum, it can be a huge advantage for them,
and they just never got it tonight.”
Junior Eric Werner added a powerplay goal a
few minutes after Ebbett’s strike, making the score 3-0 and
putting the game out of reach before the final period had even