BIG RAPIDS — Ferris State’s top-ranked defense looked as formidable as advertised when the Bulldogs arrived in Ann Arbor on Friday.
But the defense’s reputation lasted for just 24 minutes against the No. 7 Michigan hockey team.
The Bulldogs entered the home-and-home series boasting a goals-against average of 1.96 per game. And staked to an early 2-0 lead in the second period, they sank back into the defensive zone and appeared to have a stranglehold on the Wolverines at Yost Ice Arena.
But Michigan (12-4-1-0 CCHA, 15-6-4 overall) tallied three second-period goals to take the contest, 3-2, and followed with a 6-1 thrashing of the Bulldogs (8-8-3-2, 11-10-4) at Ewigleben Arena on Saturday to compete its third series sweep of the season.
“It was a game where we wanted to get a good start,” Michigan coach Red Berenson said on Friday. “Ferris came in here just before the game, and you’d think they would have some bus legs, but not at all. I thought they had the jump in the first period.”
When sophomore defenseman Lee Moffie sent a wrist shot past Bulldog goaltender Pat Nagle just under six minutes into the second period on Friday, he sparked a streak of seven unanswered goals for Michigan — an offensive onslaught spanning two days interrupted only by the three-hour bus ride from Ann Arbor to Big Rapids.
Once the Wolverines got on the scoreboard at Yost, they never looked back. Goals from junior defenseman Brandon Burlon and sophomore forward Chris Brown completed the comeback.
“I think this team has the confidence that we can come from behind, and we’ve done it more than a few times now,” Berenson said. “You don’t want to be coming from behind, but you’ve got to play the game.”
On Saturday, the contest was housed in an arena where the Wolverines haven’t seen much success — going winless in the past two seasons — with their last victory coming on Feb. 27, 2009.
But the Wolverines quickly wore out their welcome at Ewigleben Arena.
Michigan pummeled Ferris State by an identical score (6-1) against the same goalies (Nagle followed by Taylor Nelson) as it did in its last win two years earlier. It was the Bulldogs’ worst conference loss since the 2009 matchup and the most goals they have allowed all season.
Although they fell behind early on Friday, the Wolverines jumped out front in the series finale with a pair of goals from senior forward Carl Hagelin and junior forward David Wohlberg 15 seconds apart midway through the first period. The markers were the quickest back-to-back goals of the season.
“It’s easier to come from behind at home than it is on the road,” Berenson said. “Tonight, that first goal was important, Carl’s goal and then Wally’s goal right after that … that really set the tone and put (Ferris State) on their heels.”
The normally rowdy recesses of Ewigleben Arena fell as silent as a library after the Bulldogs amassed a two-goal deficit. Moffie took the silence as a cue to strike again, capping off Michigan’s second three-goal period of the series.
The Wolverines wouldn’t need any more support, but senior forward Scooter Vaughan took a back-hand pass from Wohlberg at center ice while manning the penalty kill, steered in on Nagle and lifted the puck top shelf for the 4-0 lead.
“Once we got up we got more confident, and that’s really what took it to them,” Wohlberg said.
Though the Wolverines couldn’t be stopped, Ferris State couldn’t find the back of the net without something going wrong.
The Bulldogs scored three times during the game, but all three were reviewed. The first was disallowed because the net came off its moorings prior to the puck crossing the goal line. The second was ruled a no-goal because the puck was kicked into the net. It wasn’t until the Ferris State’s last score, early in the third period, that the referees sided with the Bulldogs.
Midway through the third period, freshman forward Derek DeBlois collected the first goal of his young career, and Wohlberg wrapped up the stat sheet by tapping in a pass from Moffie with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
The Wolverines collected multiple-point weekends from Moffie, Wohlberg and Hagelin — the Swede added a goal and two assists to boost his recent totals to six goals and eight assists in his current seven-game point streak.
Never one to dwell too long on a win regardless of the margin of victory, Berenson classified the performance as one of the team’s “stronger road games of the season.”