One sound, two different reactions.

Ice Hockey
Junior T.J. Hensick and the Wolverines stepped up the intensity on the Michigan power play on Friday and were rewarded with two goals on a five-minute major.
(RODRIGO GAYA/Daily)

It was that kind of game for the No. 6 Michigan hockey team during its 4-3 exhibition win over the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 team last Friday at Yost Ice Arena.

With his team down 1-0 in the first period, Michigan freshman Andrew Cogliano had a wide-open net near the right face-off circle when he picked up a rebound off Michigan defenseman Jack Johnson’s slap shot. Cogliano quickly released the puck, only to hear the crowd groan in unison as the puck clanged off the post and away from the net.

But with the game tied at three just three minutes into the third period, freshman Brandon Naurato received a pass from forward Zac MacVoy and fired a shot from the point through the five-hole of U.S. goaltender Joseph Palmer. The puck again clanged off the right post. But this time, it crossed the goal line and sent the Yost crowd into frenzied jubilation.

The Wolverines (8-4-1 CCHA, 13-7-1 overall) faced off against the U.S NTDP for the sixth consecutive season, and for the second straight year, Michigan needed a late-game charge to pull out a victory. Battling back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-1, the Wolverines revived their lifeless power play and – according to Michigan coach Red Berenson – took “a step in the right direction.”

“I felt we played better as the game wore on,” Berenson said. “I think it was good for our team to realize that the team that works the hardest is going to be the better team.”

Until Naurato’s shot hit the back of the net at 3:08 in the third, it appeared that Team USA (4-11-2 NCAA, 18-12-2) would win its first game against Michigan. Team USA went ahead early, thanks to markers from forwards Blake Geoffrion and James O’Brian. It also benefitted from the goaltending of Palmer, who kept Team USA in the game and the Wolverines off the scoreboard until Michigan sophomore Chad Kolarik scored a power-play goal in the second period with help from freshmen Naurato and Travis Turnbull.

But the momentum of the game visibly changed after Team USA captain Brian Strait received a five-minute penalty for checking from behind with more than five minutes to go in the second period.

“We worked on (the power play) a lot this week, trying to find something that clicks,” said alternate captain T.J. Hensick. “We were lucky enough to get a five-minute power play.”

Although Team USA defenseman Erik Johnson’s goal before the penalty extended the lead to two, Hensick helped turn the tide when he sent a textbook pass across the ice from left to right in front of the net. Captain Andrew Ebbett was there to pound the pass in and make the score 3-2. Then, during the same power play, Hensick tied the game when he notched a goal for himself. His shot from the point went through traffic and over the left leg of Palmer to completely deflate any the left leg of Palmer to completely deflate any momentum the U.S. team had.

“We had three power-play goals tonight and none last weekend,” Hensick said. “So if we can look at it as our special teams vs. theirs, it was a win for us tonight.”

With the way Michigan played late in the game, Naurato’s game-winning goal seemed to be an inevitable.

The Wolverines hope that Friday night’s fireworks display on special teams helps them break their current 0-for-19 power-play slump in regular-season play. Michigan hasn’t netted a power-play goal since alternate captain Matt Hunwick scored with the advantage in the second period of Michigan’s game against Michigan Tech in the Great Lakes Invitational.

Notes: Current Wolverines freshmen Johnson, MacVoy, Mark Mitera, Jason Bailey and Danny Fardig participated in the same game last season as members of the U.S NTDP. Hensick, Kolarik, Hunwick and sophomore Kevin Porter also played with the NTDP before coming to Michigan.

“I’ve been on both sides, so I know what it’s like,” Hensick said. “On the other side of things, playing on the national program, it’s the game you look for on the schedule to find out when it is. And (as a Michigan player), it’s a chance for us to work on our special teams and things we normally wouldn’t do.”

In all 17 players have played for the NTDP before coming to Michigan.

Current U.S. NTDP defenseman Chris Summers had a lot to play for. In the fall, Summers signed a national letter of intent to play hockey for Michigan in the 2006-07 season. Summers failed to record a point and was -1 for the game. His teammate, forward Patrick Kane, was also a big name buzzing around Yost. Although undecided at the moment, Kane is rumored to have Michigan on his list of potential schools. Kane notched an assist and a +1 plus/minus rating.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *