Three minutes into Saturday night’s game against Boston University, Michigan had taken three shots. One trickled over the goalline for an apparent goal that was waved off because of an early whistle. But the other two hit the back of the net.
With the early lead, the Wolverines kept up the offensive pressure, easily winning the game 6-2 and sweeping Boston University (0-4-1 overall) in the Terriers’ first visit to Yost Ice Arena since 1989.
Slow starts had plagued No. 3 Michigan all season, but the Wolverines played the role of instigator Saturday and saw immediate rewards.
“Since Boston College, we haven’t had a really strong first period, and I think it helped staying out of the penalty box and scoring early,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said.
Eighteen seconds after Michigan’s first line had a goal taken back, the second line made up for it. Freshman Ben Winnett took a backhand pass from junior Tim Miller and deposited the puck past Terrier goalie Karson Gillespie top shelf.
Michigan (5-1-0) used a bruising forecheck and crisp neutral-zone play to stifle Boston University in the opening minutes.
“(Friday) they kind of took it to us off the bat and caught us off guard,” junior defenseman Mark Mitera said. “(Saturday) we knew they were going to come out even harder, and we knew we had to match that.”
Young Wolverines contributed all night, with four first-year forwards lighting the lamp.
Freshman Max Pacioretty scored Michigan’s second goal with a wrister from the slot on the power play.
Minutes later, Pacioretty showed the other side of his power-forward skill set, laying out freshman Terrier defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in the offensive zone.
With the hit and the goal, Pacioretty quickly sealed his place as a fan favorite in his first home series.
“I knew it was special and a privilege to be a member of the Michigan hockey team, but this just summed it all up,” Pacioretty said of the Yost atmosphere. “It was unbelievable.”
The crowd was quieted momentarily when goalie Billy Sauer misplayed the puck behind his own net, allowing Boston University’s first goal just over a minute into the second period.
Despite the error, Sauer had his second straight solid night of the weekend. Playing further out of the crease than in past seasons, the junior cut down on Boston University’s shooting angles, giving the attackers little as a target.
As they did Friday night, the Wolverines responded quickly to the Boston University score. Freshman Carl Hagelin received a long tape-to-tape pass from Mark Mitera, snuck in behind the Terrier defense and calmly beat Gillespie for a power-play goal. It was the third goal of Hagelin’s six-game Michigan career.
The speedy Hagelin earned a well-deserved assist on Michigan’s fourth goal. After driving the puck deep into the offensive zone, the freshman got just enough on a tip toward his classmate Kevin Quick at the point. Quick’s slapshot deflected off Gillespie into the air where a third freshman, Louie Caporusso, knocked it into the net.
The goal was just another of many examples of the hard work both the team and its fans have come to expect this season.
On a night when they did almost everything right, the only thing the Wolverines couldn’t do for the home crowd was answer its “Let’s go Rockies” cheer.
“We didn’t have a chance,” Boston University coach Jack Parker said. “They were in our zone all night, they were storming us. They got the puck and got it out so fast, we never got near them. It was like two different speeds.”