When the Michigan ice hockey team last took the ice against Bowling Green on Feb. 9, 2010, a 4-0 victory moved Michigan coach Red Berenson into the sixth slot on college hockey’s all-time win list.
This weekend, Berenson has another opportunity to make history against the Falcons.
Stuck at 699 wins for the last six months, he could have achieved the elusive milestone win in the season opener, but after a 4-4 tie to Mercyhurst and a meaningless 4-2 exhibition win against Western Ontario, Berenson and the fourth-ranked Wolverines are taking their quest for the 700th win on the road Friday and Saturday night in Bowling Green.
But chasing the landmark victory has been a goal for the entire team recently, not just the head coach.
“I don’t think (Berenson) really cares too much about himself — he just wants this program to win, and that’s why he’s been so successful,” senior forward Louie Caporusso said Thursday. “But the big thing is that we want to get that win for him. He’s done a lot for us, and a lot for this program.”
Although the Falcons had a dismal 5-25-6 record last year, they have a new head coach and the majority of their roster returning, including leading scorer Jordan Samuels-Thomas and goaltender Nick Eno.
Don’t expect the Wolverines (0-0-1) to take this CCHA opener for granted.
“We want to start the season off on the right foot, but at the same time, we’ve got to approach Bowling Green with a little bit of concern,” Caporusso said. “They are a pesky bunch that can cause some trouble for us.”
After all, when the Falcons visited Yost Ice Arena for their first matchup last season, Bowling Green took advantage of several late penalties and scored three power play goals in less than two-and-a-half minutes to win, 4-2.
Special teams have been the major focus for Michigan during its first week of practice — especially after the Falcons scored three more power play goals in their first exhibition game last week.
“Our discipline and penalty killing will have to be rock solid, and then we’re going to have to be good defensively,” Berenson said. “We can’t be happy with the way we’ve finished the last two games, getting outscored in the third period. We’re going into their rink, and we have take care of business.”
Michigan will continue flip-flopping its senior goaltenders, with Shawn Hunwick getting the start on Friday and Bryan Hogan the following evening.
Even with a career milestone hanging in the balance, Berenson emphasizes that the getting off to a quick start against an improved Bowling Green team is his primary motivation headed into this weekend.
“There is pressure on both teams,” Berenson said. “We’ve got to go in there and try to play the role of a spoiler on the road. It will be a good test for our team.
“It’s a fine line, as you saw last week, if one or two pucks would have gone in, or one didn’t go in, it was different score on Saturday (against Western Ontario). It’s a game of inches, so we’ve got to take care of those inches.”