If Michigan coach Red Berenson had been kept awake at night wondering where the scoring would come from this season, the Wolverines put the issue to bed Thursday — at least for one night.
St. Lawrence goaltender Matt Weninger spent most of the evening with his back turned, finding puck after puck in the net as No. 5 Michigan routed the Saints, 10-3, at Yost Ice Arena.
In fact, St. Lawrence used not one, not two, but three goalies and was still left searching for answers as the Wolverines (4-0) surpassed their highest scoring output from last season in just the fourth game of the new season. Michigan scored double-figure goals for the first time since March 14, 2008 — a 10-1 thrashing of Nebraska-Omaha.
Initially, the first period began showed promise for the Saints — still reeling from last weekend’s sweep against Ferris State — when Michigan’s third line surrendered the game’s first goal.
“We knew St. Lawrence would come out strong,” Berenson said. “We liked our start even though we gave up the first goal.”
The veteran coach was referring to his team’s sense of urgency that lasted long into the night, even with the game safely in tow.
Trailing 1-0, senior forward and captain Luke Glendening chased down his own rebound after a nifty backhand and equalized. The floodgates opened.
In the next three minutes, the Wolverines added two more goals. Sophomore forward Luke Moffatt’s stick skills were on full display just 43 seconds after Glendening’s first tally. After weaving through a sea of Saints, Moffatt found the crashed the net and finished with authority.
Shortly thereafter, junior forward A.J. Treais received a pass from Moffatt and ended the opening period far better than it began for the Wolverines.
Glendening’s second goal came two minutes into the second period, putting Michigan ahead 4-1 and visibly drained St. Lawrence. The captain later completed the first hat trick of his career.
From then on, it was smooth skating for the Wolverines as the Yost crowd satisfied its craving for goals after an offseason full of questions that surrounded the offense.
With its captain scoring at will, Michigan seemed capable of scoring from anywhere on the ice. In reality, the Wolverines barely outshot the Saints, 34-32.
“No question, you’re getting some confidence, and you’re also realizing that you can get goals by doing simple things,” Berenson said of the offensive onslaught. “When your captain’s playing like that, your team can’t be far behind.”
But despite the rout, Berenson felt after the game that Michigan was fortunate to win by such a wide margin. He added, “stupid penalties” like the ones the Wolverines committed Thursday might be the difference come CCHA play.
“You would hate to lose a game or lose points in the season because of a bad penalty,” Berenson said. “You’re going to take penalties if you’re playing hard, but honest penalties, we have a chance of killing.”
Mistakes that can fly under the radar against inferior teams will be magnified when the unforgiving conference schedule begins next weekend at Northern Michigan.
Until then, the Wolverines will attempt to work out the kinks during one of their longest gaps between games this season. The young team will leave the friendly confines of Yost, but not before another full week of practice.
“We have had a real busy stretch, but I think it will be good,” Berenson said of the eight-day hiatus. “(Now) the hockey will be better, everything will be more important, more serious. But I think we’ll be ready for it.”