The feeling of familiarity was almost eerie when Michigan freshman Tim Miller slotted a shot past Alaska-Fairbanks goaltender Chad Johnson in the waning moments of Saturday night’s loss to the Nanooks. Miller’s goal brought the score to 4-2, completing a mirror image of the season series that began in Fairbanks last October.
With four key players returning to action less than 24 hours after arriving home from an emotional trip to the World Junior Championships, the Wolverines were certainly not at full strength this weekend.
Heading into Friday night’s game, I recalled the season-series opener Oct. 29 in Fairbanks, where a travel-weary Michigan team was out-hustled to every puck and sent back to the hotel with a 4-2 loss. Needless to say, I was wary of a repeat. But it wasn’t to be. The Wolverines notched a 4-0 shutout victory in Friday’s game.
At that point, Michigan had taken two in a row from the Nanooks, beginning with a 4-0 win Oct. 30 and the visions of the conference-opening October loss faded fast.
The Wolverines are a much quicker team, and, after losing that first game in Fairbanks, Michigan coach Red Berenson pushed his team to take advantage of its speed. The speed paid dividends in the second October matchup, when Michigan blanked Alaska-Fairbanks on the 30th, dominating much like the Wolverines did this past Friday.
But it took just eight minutes for the Nanooks to revive October’s frustration on Saturday. Before anyone knew what happened, Michigan had surrendered three quick goals, and just one thought came to mind: dejA