Seniors Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik have carried the Michigan hockey team all season, so they weren’t surprised when Nebraska-Omaha keyed on them in the CCHA quarterfinals.
The Mavericks found no success stopping the duo Friday night, when Kolarik lit up the red-and-white clad defense for a hat trick in his first game back from a hamstring injury. Porter also netted one in the 10-1 Michigan win.
But on Saturday, the seniors were held off the score sheet.
That didn’t stop the rest of the Wolverines from picking up the slack. Junior Brandon Naurato and freshman Carl Hagelin each had a goal in Michigan’s 2-1, series-clinching win Saturday night.
The series victory earned Michigan its 19th straight trip to the CCHA’s final weekend at Joe Louis Arena, where it will face Northern Michigan in a semifinal matchup Friday.
“They’ve done a great job this year scoring goals, important goals, too,” Hagelin said of Porter and Kolarik. “But we can’t rely on two guys, everyone needs to be contributing.”
Hagelin has now scored a goal in three straight games, and his tallies were the most electrifying of the weekend. On Friday, Hagelin wowed the Yost Ice Arena crowd with a shorthanded goal that showed off his blazing speed and precision shot.
Hagelin caught a Maverick defenseman off guard at center ice, then picked up the puck and blew into the offensive zone. After curling behind the net, he hesitated before firing a laser over Nebraska-Omaha goalie Jerad Kaufmann’s glove.
On Saturday, Hagelin put on another one-man show, skating into the zone and cutting across the slot before backhanding the puck through Kaufmann’s five-hole.
“That was the goal of the game, really,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said. “I thought that put them on their heels and was just a really good individual effort on a backhand.”