It looked like Jed Ortmeyer missed his chance to become
Michigan’s hero.

With the score tied 1-1 and less than two minutes left in the
third period of the Wolverines’ Midwest Regional semifinal matchup
with Maine, Ortmeyer took a feed in the slot, wound up for a
booming one-timer and completely whiffed.

But the puck slid back to the point, where teammate Jeff
Tambellini was waiting. The freshman sent it back in deep, and
Ortmeyer poked in a rebound to give Michigan a 2-1 victory.

The Wolverines’ captain said the powerplay goal was a little bit
of redemption after an earlier defensive miscue cost his team its
1-0 lead.

“I felt like I owed our team a goal,” Ortmeyer said. “I let my
man (forward Colin Shields) get to the net, and he was able to tie
the game up. I was a little upset at myself, and the shot was
there, and I was able to just poke it through. It was nothing
special.”

His teammates would probably disagree on that point, considering
the goal advanced Michigan to the regional championship game Sunday
afternoon — one win away from the Frozen Four.

The goaltender’s dual between the second-seeded Black Bears and
the third-seeded Wolverines remained scoreless for more than two
periods. Both teams played a wide-open style and drew few
penalties. Maine doubled up Michigan in shots on goal in the first
period, but freshman goaltender Al Montoya stopped all 12 shots. In
the second frame, the Wolverines fired 13 shots at junior Frank
Doyle but couldn’t get one past him.

Maine gave the Michigan faithful a scare early in the third
period, when Robert Liscak beat Montoya but was thwarted by the
right goalpost.

“I saw it hit the post,” Montoya said. “As I was looking behind
me, I thought it was in. It was trickling across the goalline, and
I gloved it out.”

Michigan’s Eric Nystrom finally broke open the scoring 6:47 into
the third. The sophomore brought the puck into Maine’s zone,
fighting off two defenders the entire way. Fellow sophomore Michael
Woodford picked up the puck in the slot and fired a high shot at
Doyle, and Nystrom buried the rebound.

“We talked before the game about playing strong, and I think
that was a great example of a player that just would not be denied
the puck,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “So you talk about
one-on-one strength or determination or will — whatever it was —
Eric Nystrom had it.”

Michigan led for just under 10 minutes, and then Shields knotted
the score with a deflection that trickled past Montoya. The Black
Bears continued firing a flurry of shots on net, but Montoya turned
them all away, including a lightening-quick glove save that seemed
to stun the shooter, Martin Kariya.

Montoya, who finished with 34 saves on 35 shots, kept Michigan
in the game until Ortmeyer tallied the game-winner at 18:29 in the
third period.

The Wolverines will play in Sunday’s regional final against No.
1 seed Colorado College, which beat Wayne State 4-2 in the early
game Saturday.

“We know we’re up against a very tough opponent,” Berenson said.
“I don’t know how much the difference in rest will be a factor, but
I know our team is tired after this game. It was a big, emotional
win, and we have to get refocused and start thinking about an
opponent who, in terms of the polls, is maybe the best team in the
country.”

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