The Michigan hockey team stole one last year against Western Michigan.

The Wolverines scored with 40 seconds left in regulation with their goalie pulled to tie the game. Then they scored again with just three seconds remaining in overtime to pull off their wildest win of the season on senior night.

“We were lucky,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson.

Lucky indeed. Case in point: the Broncos rolled past Michigan, 5-2, in the CCHA Tournament semifinals, en route to the championship.

Yet Michigan made some of its own luck, partially because it knew where to turn for its scoring. Then-senior forward Carl Hagelin scored both crunch-time goals.

Who would be the go-to scorer this year? The answer remained unclear entering the season. Maybe an established scorer like senior forward David Wohlberg would emerge as the guy, or perhaps a younger player like junior forward Chris Brown would break out.

Really, though, the big question facing No. 3 Michigan entering the season was if it has enough offense, period.

Through eight games, the Wolverines (2-1-1 CCHA, 6-1-1 overall) have answered with a resounding “yes.”

“We’ve scored a little more than I thought we would,” Berenson said. “I think we’ve got some balance. It’s not one line that’s carrying our team, we’re getting goals from all the lines. It’s not one class, it’s all four classes that are contributing.”

Last year, Michigan ranked 16th in the nation in scoring — not overpowering but certainly solid.

This year, the Wolverines have jumped out to the second-best scoring production in the nation, averaging 4.88 goals per game. Not bad, especially considering they’ve only given up more than their scoring average only once — and that fifth goal came on an empty-netter in Michigan’s lone loss to Northern Michigan.

But can the Wolverines maintain that level of offensive production?

Berenson said that Western Michigan (3-0-1, 5-0-3) would be even tougher than Ferris State was last weekend, a team that came into Ann Arbor with the No. 1 defense in the nation. Michigan and the fourth-ranked Broncos will play a weekend series at Yost Arena beginning Friday.

“They’re doing what they did last year,” said Berenson of the Broncos, who emerged from the CCHA Tournament to earn a NCAA berth last year. “And they’re probably doing it harder now and with a little more confidence because they didn’t know at this time last year how good they were going to be.”

Make no mistake about it, Western Michigan is legitimate. The Broncos remain the only unbeaten team in the CCHA, and they earned their ever highest ranking with the fourth spot in the poll, including one first-place vote.

Western Michigan will test the Wolverines’ offense. The Broncos, though, have limited opponents to just 1.6 goals per game.

“They didn’t lose much from last year,” Berenson said.

Michigan has capitalized on its depth and the surprising play of freshmen, like forward Phil Di Giuseppe, to score heaps of goals. Berenson has compared this year’s crop of freshmen to the most recent graduating class that included players like Hagelin, Matt Rust and Louie Caporusso.

“When you have freshmen coming in, you don’t really know what to expect from them,” said senior defenseman Greg Pateryn. “But after the first week, you could see some guys were really going to stand out this year.”

Western Michigan’s defenders have limited opposing offenses to just under 22 shots per game, but the Broncos’ goalies haven’t played incredibly well. Western Michigan has played two goalies — with junior Nick Pisellini and freshman Frank Slubowski splitting time — and the two have stopped .931 and .918 percent of shots, respectively.

The Broncos’ goalies have benefited from a strong top line of scorers. Sophomores Chase Balisy, Shane Berschbach and junior Dane Walters have powered the offense, combining for 34 points through eight games.

And they’ve taken well to coach Andy Murray in his first season. Murray coached for the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues before making the move to the collegiate ranks.

Berenson said Western Michigan is playing like a confident team.

“(Last year) they didn’t know they were going to make the NCAA Tournament, and make it to Joe Louis and so on,” Berenson said. “This will be a real proving year for them.”

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