DETROIT — The Michigan hockey team spent its Friday night in Detroit with ice baths, full bellies and a good night’s sleep after pulling off an exhilarating comeback. But those weren’t enough to keep the Wolverines from looking fatigued in Saturday night’s CCHA title game at Joe Louis Arena.
Michigan punched its ticket to the finals against Western Michigan as Friday night turned to Saturday morning — long after the Broncos had defeated Miami (Ohio) in the earlier semifinal.
To get there, the Wolverines needed double overtime to beat Bowling Green. Michigan coach Red Berenson knew right away that the extra ice time didn’t bode well for his team’s chances at a tenth conference tournament championship.
“I can tell you, we’re going to be a tired hockey team (on Saturday),” Berenson said after the Wolverines ended Bowling Green’s Cinderella run.
To get to that stage, the Falcons had to win a pair of three-game road series against Northern Michigan and Ferris State.
Friday, Michigan had to overcome a two-goal deficit to survive and advance. On Saturday, facing an even steeper climb and without the fresh legs the Wolverines had the night before, the game seemed completely out of reach for the first two periods.
After the first 40 minutes, Michigan trailed by a 3-0 margin, but a completely depleted Wolverine squad made it feel like twice that amount.
“Maybe we didn’t have the jump that we usually do, but I thought we hung in there,” said Michigan senior captain Luke Glendening. “We just didn’t have enough gas in the tank to finish it off.”
Glendening was referring to the furious comeback that ensued when the third period began. But that extra energy didn’t reappear as it did late into the night on Friday when sophomore forward Luke Moffatt scored the game-winning goal.
“Obviously, fatigue sets in at some point. But we train all year, all summer, for games like this,” said senior forward David Wohlberg on Friday.
BIG RED RIVALRY?: Michigan’s first-round matchup in the NCAA Tournament against Cornell is interesting on a number of levels.
First, it’s a game that college hockey fans everywhere had been looking forward to — only, this one comes nine months early. Earlier this season, The Michigan Daily confirmed that the Wolverines are set to face Cornell in December in New York City. The game, not yet formally announced, is expected to be played at Madison Square Garden.
Last month, sophomore defenseman Mac Bennett admitted he was thrilled for a potential trip to the East Coast to play Cornell. Bennett is one of four Wolverines from the region.
The two foes have met a total of three times in the NCAA Tournament, with Michigan winning two of them.
Berenson expressed admiration on Sunday for the job that Mike Schafer has done in Ithaca with Cornell.
TITLETOWN USA: Green Bay is as synonymous with success as the Michigan hockey program. The Packers have won four Super Bowls in their storied history.
But Berenson and junior forward Chris Brown have never stepped foot in Green Bay. Fifth-year senior goaltender Shawn Hunwick hasn’t been there either, but he said he has heard only good things about the Resch Center, where this weekend’s NCAA Midwest Regional will be held. The Resch Center sits directly across the street from Lambeau Field — the Packers’ home field and one of football’s most historic stadiums.
Though Berenson lacks playing or coaching experience in Green Bay, he does feel a special connection to the city. He considers himself a fan of former Packer quarterback Bart Starr, who led the Packers to a victory in Super Bowl I.