During the Michigan hockey team’s recent six-game win streak, the Wolverines averaged almost a four-goal margin of victory. They hadn’t quite figured out how to win a low-scoring nailbiter.
In fact, the Wolverines’ 1-0 shutout of Bowling Green Saturday marked the first time all season that they won a game without scoring at least three goals.
“We need to be in games like this,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said after the victory. “I think it was a good gut check for the team.”
The CCHA basement-dwelling Falcons held the Wolverines scoreless through 90 minutes. Midway through the second period, sophomore defenseman Chad Langlais fired a shot from the left point that flew past Bowling Green goalie Jimmy Spratt. A perfect screen from junior forward Anthony Ciraulo blinded the netminder.
Langlais credited Ciraulo, who filled in for an ill Matt Rust, and his line of Danny Fardig and Luke Glendening for his goal.
Langlais’ tally also marked the first goal scored with senior goaltender Billy Sauer between the pipes in almost 180 minutes of play.
“(Sauer) hadn’t been able to win,” Berenson said. “Finally, the team scored a goal for him. … You can’t win games if your team can’t score.”
Langlais, who said before the season that he intended to be more aggressive and add to the team’s offense, has followed through on his word.
He tallied his first career goal in the season opener against St. Lawrence and has quietly accumulated assists since then. Saturday’s goal gave Langlais his 14th point of the season and put the Spokane, Wash., native into a tie for eighth place among CCHA defensemen.
The sophomore has also emerged as one of the league’s top point men for power plays. Michigan assistant coach Billy Powers said in October that Langlais’ vision on the ice makes him a good “quarterback” for the power-play unit.
Getting rough: With two seconds left in Saturday’s game, both teams finally snapped.
Seven penalties were dealt — three to Michigan players — after a handful of players dropped their sticks and traded punches after the whistle.
Referees called 46 combined penalties in the series, including three majors. Hits echoed loudly in the cozy confines of the BGSU Ice Arena Saturday night.
The hit that caused the most concern for the Wolverines came 23 seconds into the first period of Saturday’s game. Junior defenseman Chris Summers got slammed into the boards in front of the Falcon student section and didn’t get up for a few minutes. Berenson said Summers suffered a head injury.
Summers, the team’s acting captain, was forced to watch the rest of the game from the stands with the scratched players. He said he felt dizzy after the hit and was taken out of the game for precautionary reasons.
With Summers out of commission, the Wolverines played with just five defensemen. Early in the third frame, that number almost became four. Sophomore Tristin Llewellyn limped off the ice with what looked like a left knee injury after Falcon Josh Boyd clipped him near center ice. Llewellyn returned to the game and was sporting an ice pack on his knee after the game.
“We’ve been dealing with injuries all season, so it’s nothing new to us,” added Langlais, adding that some defensemen saw more ice time than usual and played well.
It marked the first time all year the Wolverines lacked a player wearing a letter on the ice. After senior captain Mark Mitera suffered an ACL injury in the season-opening game in October, Summers began wearing a ‘C,’ and Berenson didn’t appoint another alternate captain.
And with both Mitera and Summers sitting in the stands Saturday, sophomore forward Louie Caporusso and junior defenseman Steve Kampfer represented Michigan when talking to referees about penalties and a disputed goal.
Summers didn’t practice Monday, but the trainers cleared him to play in yesterday’s practice and for the upcoming weekend. Summers said yesterday he felt a little sluggish since he hadn’t been on the ice for a few days.
Not quite: All weekend, senior forward Tim Miller kept finding himself with the puck in front of the net, including three good scoring chances.
But without a little puck luck, he couldn’t get past Spratt.
It appeared Miller figured out the secret to success late in the third period of Saturday’s game. He poked the puck into the net, which elicited a red light and cheers from the Michigan contingent of fans.
But when the referees reviewed the play, they ruled that Spratt had held the puck long enough to warrant a whistle before Miller’s shot.
Had the tally stood, Miller would have doubled the Michigan lead and essentially put the game out of reach for Bowling Green.