OMAHA – Michigan has scored at least one power-play goal in six straight games, and in this weekend’s two-game series against Nebraska-Omaha, it certainly didn’t lack opportunities to continue the streak.
The Wolverines had 12 power-play opportunities during Friday night’s 6-3 win, but tallied 11 penalties of their own. The high number of penalties contributed to the choppy pace of the game and Michigan’s failure to get in sync until the five-goal third period.
Michigan coach Red Berenson said there were some debatable penalties during Friday’s game, including a third-period hooking call against senior Chad Kolarik that led to Nebraska-Omaha’s third goal. Berenson thought the Maverick player caught his stick in Kolarik’s glove, which may have triggered a call.
“We’re trying to be a low-penalized team, and I thought we took some needless penalties,” Berenson said Friday. “A couple of those are questionable, but in the meantime, we took too many penalties.”
Both teams were penalized six times Saturday. Though Michigan almost cut its penalties in half, Berenson still wasn’t pleased when sophomore Chris Summers was called for elbowing early in Saturday’s second period. The Mavericks capitalized by scoring their first goal of the game and destroyed the Wolverines’ first-period momentum.
“I don’t like taking a penalty in the offensive zone,” Berenson said. “Summers got down in the offensive zone and got a little too aggressive, I guess. I didn’t see whether it was a high hit. You hate to see those penalties.
“That was a telling penalty in the game, but it’s emotional hockey. You know there’s going to be some penalties, but we can’t tell the referee what he sees and how to interpret it.”
Playing on the edge: It’s a little unnerving to see the goalie nearly out of the crease while making saves.
But Michigan goalie Billy Sauer has been making an effort to do just that. And through eight games, Sauer said his new style of playing high in the crease has been working well. During this weekend’s games, Sauer wasn’t afraid to sprawl on the ice, half-out of the crease, to trap the puck and stop play.
“That’s definitely something I’m trying to add into my game, just being out more,” Sauer said. “It gives the shooter so much less to shoot at. I think it’s really helping me so far.”
Sauer finished with 25 saves Friday and 28 saves Saturday, contributing to his 2.49 goals-against average this season. He continues to distance himself from last year’s 3.49 GAA through eight games.
Notes: Sophomore Danny Fardig was injured Friday night while blocking a shot and was scratched for Saturday’s game. Berenson said Fardig may have broken his knuckle, and his status is unclear for next weekend’s series against Alaska. . Summers’s first assist of the season Saturday means freshman Tristin Llewellyn is the only Wolverine (including Sauer, who was credited with an assist against Boston University) who has played in a game and not recorded a point. Twenty-one of the 26 rostered players have seen game time, and 13 of the 21 have scored at least one goal. . Five of captain Kevin Porter’s eight goals this season have come on the power play.