When senior David Rohlfs dinged a slapshot off the crossbar at the beginning of Michigan’s 5-0 blanking of Bowling Green Tuesday night, the Wolverines accidentally let some premature celebrations slip out.
The puck didn’t go in, but Rohlfs earned a real celebration later with a goal that got some cheers and some chuckles.
Less than two minutes into the second period, the Falcons tried to clear the puck from their zone, only for it to meet Rohlfs’s stick at the blue line. Rohlfs fired it straight ahead to the net, but the puck fluttered like a knuckle puck straight out of “D2: The Mighty Ducks.”
The sailing puck fooled Bowling Green netminder Jimmy Spratt and drifted right over the top of his glove to give Michigan its second tally of the night.
“I just kind of laughed about it, because it wasn’t even close to half as hard as his first shot that hit the crossbar,” sophomore Tim Miller said. “It just went off the goalie’s glove. It was pretty funny — but it was a big goal for us.”
The score came after a first period the Wolverines dominated – outshooting Bowling Green 13-1 – but had just a 1-0 lead to show for it. When Rohlfs lit the lamp, he secured the Michigan lead.
“Let’s face it, Rohlfs’s goal was a pretty lucky goal,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “It wasn’t even a good scoring chance. . We got lucky on that one.”
Michigan never looked back from there, and neither did Rohlfs, who slipped the puck past Spratt again in the third stanza.
The two-goal output was an impressive demonstration of Rohlfs’s success on a new line with Miller and sophomore Brandon Naurato.
Rohlfs had spent most of the first half of the season on the top line with senior T.J. Hensick and junior Kevin Porter. The three gelled well – so well that they accounted for just less than half of Michigan’s offensive output.
But Berenson didn’t like having such a one-dimensional offense, and has been shuffling lines since mid-December. He bumped sophomore Travis Turnbull up to the top line and tried Rohlfs on the second line with junior Chad Kolarik and sophomore Andrew Cogliano.
But it seemed like Berenson struck gold Tuesday night when he moved Rohlfs, a hulking 6-foot-3, 239-pound right-winger, to the third line, debuting the Naurato-Miller-Rohlfs combination for the first time.
“There’s no question Rohlfs adds a dimension on any line he plays on,” Berenson said. “So, when he plays on a line with Naurato and Miller, that gives you another line that can score. . We have to be more than a one-line team.”
Though his line assignments have been changing, Rohlfs has enjoyed the consistency of playing up front all season. During his junior year, a shortage of defensemen required that he move back to the blue line for 23 games.
The Northville native has said he appreciates being able to play forward for a full season.
After his performance Tuesday night, his new linemates are pretty appreciative, too.
“He gets in the corners so fast, and he can take two guys on by himself,” Miller said. “When we’re working together in the corners, we create a lot of opportunities. Then we have Naurato up front who can bury the puck, so it’s working out perfectly.”