SAULT STE. MARIE – One would have never known it was Michigan that had last week off, because it was Lake Superior State that was suffering from jet lag for most of the Wolverines’ 4-1 win.
Michigan, which had just two practices with coaches in the past two weeks, attacked early and often in the first period. This set the tone for the entire 60 minutes.
“That was the most important part of the game,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “One team is going to get the momentum and we were that team.”
With the Lakers managing just two shots from the blueline in the first five minutes – five shots total for the period – Michigan was able to keep the pressure on Lake Superior goalie Matt Violin. Six minutes into the period, David Moss scooped up a loose puck and sent it through Violin’s five-hole.
Michigan’s next two goals were even easier than the first. During a shift change, freshman Jeff Tambellini skated in unchallenged, shot from the left side of the blue line and scored between the legs of Violin for his 13th goal of the season. At 15:43 of the first, forward Eric Nystrom went from behind Lake Superior’s goal, skated around two defenders untouched and recorded a backhanded five-hole tally.
“I’d say they were hard-worked goals, especially Nystrom’s,” Berenson said. “We worked hard down low and we attacked the net. Every goal … put more pressure on them.”
Another plus was the amount of puck control the Wolverines had in their own zone at even strength. They avoided defenders and passed to one another as if on the powerplay.
“We did some good things in the offensive zone, and we did some good cycling,” Berenson said. “Did we get a lot out of it? At times we did.”
Without defensemen Eric Werner (ineligible) and Andy Burnes (strained groin), the defense relied on little-used Reilly Olson and forward-turned-defenseman David Wyzgowski. Wyzgowski made a stop on a Mike Adamek breakaway, and Olson recorded his first point of the season with an assist on the Tambellini goal.
“Overall, I thought they did a good job,” Berenson said. “We’re not expecting them to carry the team, we just expect them to fit in. There’s one good thing about practicing every day with (their teammates), because there’s nobody any better who’s going to come down on you than Jeff Tambellini and (senior) Jed Ortmeyer.”
The first period’s excitement was matched by the second period’s lethargy.
Lake Superior State had its best chance of the period three-quarters into it when Montoya took a fall in the right faceoff circle.
None of the Lakers were in position for the wide-open shot, but the puck did manage to squirt from a scrum of Wolverines and Lakers toward the empty net. On his hands and knees, Montoya lunged at the puck from 10 feet out with his stick and successfully removed it from the crease when there was just a foot between it and erasing the current shutout.
After Michigan extended its lead 20 seconds into the third period on a John Shouneyia goal, the Lakers got on the board when junior Kyle Anderson shot around Michigan defenseman Danny Richmond, off Montoya’s left skate and into the net.