Michigan coach Red Berenson almost always opens his postgame press conference with some opening remarks, but then again, the Michigan hockey team almost never gets swept at Yost Ice Arena.
So after a weekend in which No. 7 Michigan couldn’t make a closing statement, Berenson didn’t make an opening statement.
No. 14 Ohio State buried the Wolverines for its first sweep at Yost Ice Arena since 1986. The sweep relegated Michigan to seventh place in the CCHA and put the Buckeyes in sole possession of first.
“They’re a good team, give them credit,” Berenson said. “Of course, our players are embarrassed. These are tough losses.”
Fifth-year senior goalie Shawn Hunwick endured his roughest series of the year. On Friday, Ohio State won, 2-1, on a shot from behind the cage that banked off of Hunwick’s blocker and into the net.
The Buckeyes bombarded Hunwick with shots on Saturday. They dissected the Wolverines’ defense and fired 37 shots on the cage, many of them from point-blank range or with little defensive resistance.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson after Saturday’s game. “I can’t say we got exposed, but we definitely broke down in places tonight, and we gave up goals too easily.”
The last time Michigan scored five goals and lost was in the Western Regional of the NCAA Tournament in 2007 against North Dakota.
“You have no chance of winning when you give up six,” Berenson said. “I can tell you (in practice) Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday next week will be defensive-zone coverage.”
Perhaps Friday’s winning goal — which Berenson described as “fluky” — still lingered in Hunwick’s mind the following night. Early on, he failed to cleanly cover up a puck, though he had ample time, and it almost led to a goal.
After Ohio State’s first goal on Saturday, Hunwick slung the puck down the ice in frustration.
Hunwick broke his stick against the post after the fifth goal, which put the Buckeyes up by entering the third period.
He could only look down at his skates and let his arms sag limply by his sides after the sixth and final goal.
“When you leave a guy wide open in front of the net, your goalie can’t make that save very often,” Berenson said. “The winning goal (on Friday) was a bad goal, but I didn’t see any bad goals out there (on Saturday). I thought the puck was going in because of good plays on their part, turnovers on our part and deflections.”
When Hunwick shattered his stick, he spoke for the whole team.
“Shawn’s an emotional kid,” said senior forward Luke Glendening. “That’s the way he plays, he plays with an edge. And that gets us fired up. Obviously he’s frustrated, we’re all frustrated — that’s fine.”
Every time the Wolverines grabbed the momentum on Saturday, the Buckeyes stole it back. Freshman forward Mike Chiasson scored the first goal of the game, but Ohio State (7-2-1 CCHA, 10-3-1 overall) countered just three minutes later.
After sophomore forward Luke Moffatt tied it in the second stanza, junior forward Chris Brown picked up a five-minute major penalty for boarding. Michigan killed off the first four minutes of the penalty, and the Yost crowd appeared ready to erupt. Then a turnover led to a goal, followed by another seconds later.
The Wolverines showed life late, down two goals, when sophomore forward Derek DeBlois converted on a shorthanded opportunity. Michigan gave it right back minutes later.
“I really can’t explain it,” said a frustrated senior forward David Wohlberg. “It’s just — it seems like things are going that way right now, and we need to turn it around. We need to get the bounces going our way.”
The top two forward lines didn’t score a single goal over the weekend. Freshman forward Alex Guptill led the third and fourth lines with two goals on Saturday.
On Friday, only sophomore defenseman Mac Bennett scored. Michigan led early in that one too, but couldn’t capitalize on a five-minute power play of its own.
Michigan (3-5-2, 7-5-2) is winless in its last four games, its longest winless streak in two years.
By the middle of the third period in the finale as Ohio State led by two goals, the band’s newest instruments — a pair of bagpipes — sounded funeral.
“We’re really frustrated,” Glendening said. “We got one point out of the last 12. No one likes to lose, and it’s not expected of Michigan. We’re expected to win.”