The Yost faithful held its collective breath Saturday when alternate captain Chad Kolarik fell to the ice on a 5-on-3 penalty kill halfway through the third period.
The senior collapsed in front of Michigan’s net with what Berenson said was a groin injury.
“Obviously, it’s pretty serious,” Berenson said. “You can’t measure it with an x-ray machine or anything like that. So we’ll just see how he feels tomorrow, but he’s pretty sore right now.”
Kolarik struggled to stay on his feet while trying to poke check opponents as he crawled off the ice, but once the puck was cleared, his teammates carried him off the ice and straight to the locker room.
It’s unclear how severe the injury is or how long Kolarik will be off the ice, but this is no minor injury for the Wolverines.
“I hope they didn’t lose him, because they have a great chance to go a long way and that would be a devastating loss,” Lake Superior State coach Jim Roque said.
Freshman Aaron Palushaj, the team’s assist leader, replaced Kolarik on the first line in the closing minutes.
Just two for Louie: It was impossible to see how the puck failed to find the back of the net on Louie Caporusso’s first-period wraparound.
The freshman beat Lake Superior State netminder Pat Inglis to the right post from behind the goal Saturday, but instead of hearing the horn sound, there was a loud clank. His backhand shot slid along the goal line without crossing the plane and clanked off the opposite post.
After the game, Caporusso shrugged in disbelief when asked about the play.
“I don’t know how that didn’t go in,” Caporusso said. “I felt a little snakebitten.”
In a scoreless game midway through the opening period, the missed shot seemed inconsequential.
But on an individual level, it stung. Caporusso would have had a hat trick one night after Kolarik netted four against Lake Superior State.
“You kind of feel bad after a while when you see Chad and Porter just keep putting it in all the time,” Caporusso said. “If they ever get shut down, we’re going to be in trouble.”
But Saturday, Caporusso showed off the team’s offensive depth.
The Woodbridge, Ont., native became the sixth Wolverine and third freshman to notch double-digit goals on the season with his ninth and 10th scores.
The center’s recovery from a medial collateral ligament injury in early November has particularly impressed Michigan coach Red Berenson.
Caporusso returned for the Great Lakes Invitational in December, scored the Wolverines’ first goal in the tournament and has proceeded to score six more this year.
“I really like the direction that Louie’s going,” Berenson said. “Since he’s come back, he has really given his line a dose of offense and smarts, so it’s nice to see it pay off for him tonight.”
Standing alone: Michigan’s one-point lead in the CCHA standings going into the weekend raised concerns the Wolverines wouldn’t be able to hold onto first place in the conference.
Then seventh-place Ferris State shocked the country with a sweep of No. 2 Miami (Ohio) to give Michigan a five-point cushion in the standings with four games left.
“A couple times we would look at the scoreboard and see they were down, but then again, you’re in a game and don’t really want to pay attention to that,” Caporusso said. “But it’s hard to not help to notice they were losing.”
The conference lead is crucial with Michigan needing just four points in four games to clinch the regular season title, especially as it faces tough No. 8 Michigan State and Ferris State in its final contests.
“We got an extra four points, but that only means that Ferris State is playing really well, so our schedule is not really the easiest it can be,” Caporusso said.