Michigan freshman Brandon Kaleniecki came back to the lineup this past weekend against Michigan State, and while he made his official return on Friday, he was truly welcomed back on Saturday.

The Livonia native hit the ice for the first time in three weeks and a row of his family members were perched in the upper reaches of Joe Louis Arena to cheer him on. His younger relatives even brought out signs proclaiming their love for “The Pitbull.”

“I’ve got a lot of cousins and they know that I don’t like that, but they do that just to spite me,” Kaleniecki said jokingly.

The forward suffered a high-ankle sprain on Feb. 7 against Northern Michigan when Wildcats’ goalie Craig Kowalski fell on him. He had tried to make it back for the Feb. 21-22 series with Nebraska-Omaha, but his ankle didn’t recover quickly enough.

The freshman made his presence felt this Saturday with a wristshot early in the third period. The tally put the Wolverines up 5-3 early in the third period and proved to be the eventual game-winner in the 5-4 victory. He is now in a three-way tie for second on the team with 12 goals.

“He’ll add some offense to our team, definitely,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “He’s playing hard; and it was good to see him score a goal on Saturday.”

Kaleniecki, who skated Monday with a small group of others, was relieved that he didn’t take too much flack from his teammates for the fan club.

“They don’t really see the signs too much, so that’s kind of good,” Kaleniecki said.

Still hobbled: Sophomore Milan Gajic suffered a knee injury Friday night in Ann Arbor, and he was forced to watch Saturday’s game from the stands. His status for this weekend’s duel with Ohio State is still up in the air.

“Right now, he’ll probably skate (on Tuesday), but I’m not counting on him (for the weekend),” Berenson said. “I don’t know that if he’s healthy by the middle of the week, whether I’d take him (to Columbus) anyway.”

Gajic has been paired with fellow sophomores Jason Ryznar and David Moss for one of Michigan’s most consistent groupings this semester. On the season, Gajic has 18 points on nine goals and nine assists.

Down but not out: While other media publications have written that Ferris State has clinched a share of the CCHA regular season title, Berenson pointed out that there can’t be a tie.

The Wolverines now trail the Bulldogs by four points in the standings. If Ferris State was to lose both games at Bowling Green this weekend, that would open the door for Michigan to pull even.

According to Berenson, the first tiebreaker would be overall conference wins, which would be even between the two teams. After that, it would go to the head-to-head series, which the teams split. Then it would move to the number of goals that each team scored during the head-to-head series. The Wolverines hold a slight edge in that category, with a 9-8 lead.

“That would be a longshot,” Berenson said. “But it still is a possibility.”

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