Michigan coach Red Berenson had the golden touch on Saturday — it seemed that no matter how he tweaked his roster, it resulted in goals for the No. 4 Michigan hockey team.
After a dismal offensive performance in a 4-2 loss to No. 10 Nebraska-Omaha on Friday, Berenson gave the Wolverines (2-0-0 CCHA, 3-1-2 overall) a facelift before the second game of the home series.
The veteran coach’s biggest move was swapping left wingers on the first two lines — senior forward Carl Hagelin and junior David Wohlberg — trying to find a spark and help Hagelin net his first even strength goal of the season.
The top two pairings had been left unaltered since the season opener, but Berenson felt that it was time for some adjustments.
“We weren’t getting five-on-five scoring from either line,” Berenson said. “They are our top two lines, they have to play better, they have to play strong every night, and we’re going to be changing them from time to time if we don’t think they’re working.”
He made the switch and was rewarded royally.
The new-look lines exploded for a combined three goals and three assists in the Wolverines’ 6-1 dismantling of the Mavericks (5-1-0).
They wasted no time in putting goals on the scoreboard — just eight seconds into the first frame, Wohlberg took a pass from senior linemate Matt Rust and lit the lamp to grab an early lead.
Hagelin got a goal of his own in the opening minute of the second period, and his pairing with senior center Louie Caporusso and junior winger Luke Glendening accounted for another goal later in the third frame.
“I think (my line) had a good game — two goals scored and none against — that’s pretty good,” Hagelin said. “Coach had to do something from last night to wake the team up, and it worked.”
THIRD-PERIOD SPARK: Entering the weekend series against Nebraska-Omaha, the Wolverine offensive attack had been nearly nonexistent late in games. Michigan had mustered only one power play goal and an empty-netter in the third period this season, but was still searching for the first even-strength tally.
But against the Mavericks, the offense finally found its stride in the third period. The last period on Friday was the only time in the game when the Wolverines managed to score.
In the second game of the weekend series, Michigan entered the third period with a 4-1 lead, and the Wolverines seemed to have a commanding hold on the game. But after letting a four-goal lead slip away against Mercyhurst in the season opener, Berenson wasn’t going to ease up.
“Coach talked about it in the intermission before the third. He said, ‘We know what happened against Mercyhurst. If we don’t show up in the third period they’re going to take it to us,’ ” Hagelin said. “So Coach wants us to score goals, and that’s what we did.”
Added Berenson: “A 4-1 game is still a game that can still be in doubt. If we had to kill penalties, and got on our heels and they get one or two, it’s a whole new game.”
RED’S REUNION: An orange sign with crude black lettering hung above the entrance to section 13 in the student section on Saturday. It read, “Red Berenson, a true Michigan Man.”
The sign was made in honor of Berenson’s pregame award ceremony on Saturday, when the coach received a plaque officially commemorating his 700th career win earlier this season in Bowling Green.
When Berenson stepped out onto the ice, his path was lined on both sides with former Wolverines who had played under his tutelage during the past 26 years since returning to coach his alma mater.
“It was a surprise to me,” Berenson said of the returning players. “I knew something was going on — I didn’t know what — but I knew they were going to have an acknowledgement just before the game, but it was nice to see all those guys back.”
But true to form, Berenson marched past the players, hastily accepted his award, and quickly walked across the ice.
No sucker for the spotlight, he waved his team back into its pregame warm-up routine and moved behind the bench.