The Michigan hockey team has done more than enough to earn its top-five ranking, beating three different ranked teams during non-conference play and avoiding bad losses. Ten games into the season, though, the Wolverines have also benefited from their fair share of luck.

Good teams find a way to win, but No. 5 Michigan (7-2-1) has made just about every game an ordeal. In the Wolverines’ last seven contests, they’ve gone 5-2. Each and every one of those was decided by a single goal, the longest such streak in the NCAA.

That penchant for high-pressure games was in full effect last weekend against Nebraska-Omaha. On Friday, the Wolverines carried a 2-1 lead into the third period before surrendering two goals in a three-minute span. The teams were deadlocked for the rest of the frame despite a relentless Michigan attack.

The following night, the Wolverines dominated the second period, twice opening up two-goal leads. Then the Mavericks scored a pair, and Michigan needed a late winner to escape.

Michigan coach Red Berenson lamented the defense for its miscues, which left goaltenders Zach Nagelvoort and Steve Racine out to dry on several occasions. But as they’ve done all year, both netminders performed well enough for the Wolverines to win.

“The only reason we have a winning record is because of our goals against and our save percentage,” Berenson said.

COUNT ‘EM: Freshman forward JT Compher starred in the U.S. National Team Development Program last year, tallying 18 goals and 32 assists in 52 games for the under-18 squad. He played well for the Wolverines through the first eight games of the season, but one thing was notably absent: goals.

That all changed in Omaha, where Compher scored his first two of the season.

On Friday, he recorded his sixth assist by feeding senior forward Luke Moffatt for Michigan’s first goal of the night. Minutes later, Moffatt fired a shot off the post, and Compher slapped the rebound into the net.

“I knew it was just a matter of time,” Berenson said. “I was hoping he would score sooner rather than later. I’m glad he got it over with.”

Compher didn’t need any help the following night. Defending aggressively on the penalty kill, the freshman poked the puck away from a Nebraska-Omaha attacker before racing down the ice. He then used a smooth backhand-forehand deke to tally his second goal of the weekend.

“I wasn’t surprised when he came back with another one,” Berenson said. “He’s played well right from day one, but it’s nice as a good player to get rewarded with some points.”

SZUMA SKATES: Michigan was exposed defensively for the first time all season against the Mavericks, but the struggles were magnified by a lack of available personnel.

Last week, junior defenseman Mike Szuma suffered an upper-body injury and didn’t travel with the team to Omaha as a result. The Wolverines only had six defenders available for the two-game series.

Michigan gave up three goals for just the second time all season on Friday and surrendered three more Saturday.

Szuma skated Monday, and Berenson said his progress will be assessed throughout the week before he determines whether the defenseman will be available for the Wolverines’ upcoming game Friday against Niagara.

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