Two weeks removed from game mode proved exactly the break Michigan hockey needed to get key players back on the scoring chart against American International on Friday night at Yost Ice Arena.
Among them, sophomore defenseman Kevin Lohan netted the first goal of his career and added an assist en route to a 5-2 win in the Wolverines’ first home contest in nearly a month.
Lohan skated off the ice into the second intermission as his name was chanted from the high in the stands.
“You dream of your first goal and playing for Michigan as a little kid,” Lohan said. “To be honest I didn’t really do much. …I just had to make sure I get the puck in the net when I get the opportunity.”
The Wolverines’ newest line, one featuring sophomore forward Tyler Motte, junior Andrew Copp and senior Andrew Sinelli — who returned to the lineup for the first time since Oct. 18 against New Hampshire — combined for five points and nine shots.
“I thought they were the line that seemed to lead the way offensively whenever we needed them,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “It just seemed when our team started to go into a little bit of a hump, Copp’s line seemed to generate energy.”
Copp, who struggled along with his teammates to produce in October, tallied three points in the game. In the third period, a shot that was originally called as Nolan De Jong’s first career goal was later credited to Copp, his third goal in three games.
“I don’t think (De Jong) was mad at me,” Copp said. “He wants his goal to be his goal.”
Michigan took only one penalty in the game two weeks after a game in which the Wolverines combined with Michigan Tech for 62 penalty minutes. The unit fended off an American International advantage with ease late in the final frame, cruising to victory just six minutes later.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Berenson said. “This wasn’t necessarily our best game, it might have been our best result. We need to be better tomorrow.”
The Wolverines came out slow in the second period and were burned just three minutes later. On a breakaway, American International forward David Norris put a shot from the blue line past sophomore goaltender Zach Nagelvoort to tie the score at one.
Nagelvoort made several strong saves to preserve the tie before Motte tallied his third goal of the season, swinging momentum in favor of the home team. Minutes later, sophomore center J.T. Compher, who had struggled in five games on the wing, found sophomore Max Shuart for his second goal in two games.
In addition to scoring, the Wolverines were also vastly improved on the faceoff. As a result, Michigan outshot American International 30-8 through two periods, finishing with 41 shots.
The Wolverines traded scoring chances with American International in the first frame until the midway point. Seconds later, at the 10:40 mark, Copp went top-shelf to give Michigan a 1-0 lead that would hold through the first intermission.
Despite several near-breakaways at center ice, the Yellow Jackets managed just two shots to the Wolverines’ 14 in the frame.
“The shots were heavily in our favor tonight,” Copp said. “It speaks to the way we played. Obviously we gave up too many chances and if they’d had some better puck luck it might have been a closer game.”
Prior to puck drop, the program honored two late Michigan hockey legends — class of 1950 forward Wally Grant and former player and coach Al Renfrew — with a moment of silence.
Sixty minutes later, skating under the banners those former Wolverines helped hang, current players embraced after a win.