Northern Michigan forward Mark Olver stood in line to shake hands with the Michigan hockey team Saturday with his palms to his knees. He was bent over, looking for air — and possibly an explanation.


Olver solemnly shook hands with senior captain Chris Summers and then the rest of the Wolverines with his head focused on the ground, not looking anyone in the eye after Michigan’s 5-4 win.

Just moments before, he had missed a point-blank opportunity to tie the game and send it into overtime. Junior goalie Bryan Hogan blocked a shot and the rebound bounced right to Olver’s stick on the backside of the play with less than a minute remaining in the game. His shot clanged off the post and everyone at Yost collectively exhaled.

The eighth-leading scorer in the country just plain missed it.

“How can the best scorer in the league miss the net like that?,” Michigan coach Red Berenson wondered after the game.

After losing 3-1 Friday, Michigan’s win Saturday came in a back-and-forth contest that included multiple comebacks by the Wolverines. After falling behind 1-0 and 4-3, Michigan was able to string together quick-hitting attacks to respond.

Sophomore forward Luke Glendening and freshman forward Kevin Lynch scored within 10 seconds of each other to come back and take the lead in the middle of the second period. It was the fastest two goals have been scored all season for Michigan. Then, down 4-3, junior defenseman Chad Langlais and sophomore defenseman Greg Pateryn scored within a minute in the third period to take the lead for good.

“Our team has been challenged, not just by me but by the situation,” Berenson said. “They came out to play harder and better and stronger (Saturday). And here we were with our backs against the wall in the third period. But I think we played with more conviction, more resolve. Sure, you need a break. But we made our breaks, and we found a way to win the game.”

Five different players tallied goals on the night, and each came from a secondary scorer. It was truly a team effort to make the comebacks. And the goals weren’t exactly tic-tac-toe plays — they were dirty, workman-like goals.

The Wolverines made their own luck Saturday after not having much on Friday. In the first game of the series Michigan fell down 0-2 in the middle of the first period and couldn’t score more than one goal on 39 shots. The Wolverines ended up losing the game 3-1.

The power play especially struggled on Friday as Michigan finished the game 0-8 with the man-advantage with 16 shots. But the Wolverines used the power play to come back Saturday and scored two crucial goals. One gave Michigan the lead in the second period, and the other was Langlais’s tying goal in the third.

The poise and energy with which Michigan played Saturday to come back is something the Wolverines have been trying to harness all season. The Wolverines have been improving in that area, though. And junior forward Carl Hagelin said that the team has been playing better from behind since winter break.

Friday’s 0-2 deficit just ended up being too large of a mountain to climb. Michigan dropped to 0-9 on the season when the opponent scores the first two goals of the game, and the team was 2-12-1 entering the weekend when its opponent scored first. Comebacks have not been common.`

Now, with just one more regular season series remaining against Notre Dame next weekend, the Wolverines are almost out of chances to improve their seventh-place standing in the CCHA.

The interesting question going into the Notre Dame series and the CCHA Tournament will be whether the Friday night Michigan squad or the Saturday night comeback kids come to play. And to think that all of those comebacks were almost for naught if Olver was able to put away his final chance. It sure makes the Wolverines that much more humble.

“You just feel like it’s a lucky win,” Berenson said. “But it’s important that we won.”

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